Australian print news media coverage of sweet, non-alcoholic drinks sends mixed health messages.
ABSTRACT This study aimed to analyse the contribution of Australian print news coverage to the public profile of sweet, non-alcoholic beverages. News media portrayal of health contributes to individuals' decision-making. The focus on sugar-sweetened beverages reflects their contribution to excessive energy intake.
One year's coverage of sweet, non-alcoholic beverages by major Australian newspapers was analysed using content and frame analysis. Research questions addressed which sweet drinks are most prominently covered, what makes sweet drinks newsworthy and how are the health aspects of sweet drinks framed?
Fruit juice was the most widely covered sweet drink, closely followed by carbonated, sugar-sweetened soft drinks. Overall coverage was positively oriented towards sweet drinks, with fruit juice primarily portrayed as having health benefits. Some coverage mentioned risks of sweet drinks, such as obesity, tooth decay, metabolic syndrome and heart attack.
Sweet drinks often enjoy positive coverage, with their health benefits and harms central to their ability to attract journalists' attention. However, the mix of coverage may be contributing to consumer confusion about whether it is safe and/or healthy to consume sweet non-alcoholic drinks.
Framing of sweet drinks as healthy may undermine efforts to encourage individuals to avoid excess consumption of energy-dense drinks which offer few or minimal health benefits.
- SourceAvailable from: Helen Dixon[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: The placement of nutrition information on the front of food packages has been proposed as a method of providing simplified and visible nutrition information. This study aimed to determine the most acceptable and effective front-of-pack food labelling system for Australian consumers. Consumers' preferences and ability to compare the healthiness of mock food products were assessed for different front-of-pack labelling systems. Four systems were tested, including two variations of the Percentage Daily Intake system (Monochrome %DI and Colour-Coded %DI), which displays the proportion of daily nutrient contribution that a serve of food provides; and two variations of the Traffic Light (TL) system (Traffic Light and Traffic Light + Overall Rating), which uses colour-coding to indicate nutrient levels. Intercept surveys with 790 consumers were conducted, where each participant was exposed to a single labelling system for performance testing. Participants indicated strong support for the inclusion of nutrient information on total fat, saturated fat, sugar and sodium on the front of packages, and a consistent labelling format across all products. Using the TL system, participants were five times more likely to identify healthier foods compared with the Monochrome %DI system [odds ratio (OR) = 5.18; p < 0.001], and three times more likely compared with the Colour-Coded %DI system (OR = 3.01; p < 0.05). Consumers supported the introduction of consistent front-of-pack food labelling. The TL system was the most effective in assisting consumers to identify healthier foods. Mandatory TL labelling regulations are recommended to assist consumers in making healthy food choices.Health Promotion International 03/2009; 24(2):120-9. · 1.94 Impact Factor