Soaring obesity levels present a severe health risk in the United States, especially in low-income minority populations. Americans are exposed to an abundance of advertisements for unhealthy choices, such as fast foods and sugary drinks and cereals.
DID YOU KNOW , the estimated annual healthcare cost of obesity related illnesses are $190.2 billion or nearly 21% of annual medical spending in the Unites States .
The media — everything from television, radio, and film to games, advertising, and social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter — can have significant impacts on individual and population health. Exposure to media, especially among youth, may affect health behaviors such as substance use, sexual activity, and eating habits.
An study in Wheeling, West Virginia shows , how a media-only approach could be sufficient sufficient to encourage a significant proportion of the people in one community to alter the dietary habit targeted by the intervention.
In this study, the researchers used paid advertising and public relations to encourage members of one community to switch from whole milk to 1% or low fat milk. The study used a quasi-experimental research design with one intervention city and one comparison city. The effectiveness of the campaign was evaluated by collecting milk sales data from supermarkets and conducting pre- and post-intervention telephone surveys in intervention and comparison cities
The result showed , low-fat milk sales increased from 29% of overall milk sales before the campaign to 46% of sales in the month following the campaign. The increase was maintained at the 6-month follow up. According to the telephone surveys, 34.1% of high-fat-milk drinkers reported switching to low-fat milk in the intervention community compared with 3.6% in the comparison community.