Document Type

Journal Article

Date of Degree

Summer 2022

Primary Advisor

Mary A. Corcoran, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA

Keywords

Nutrition Science; News Media

Abstract

Diet is directly correlated with overall health; therefore, nutrition is a critical piece of the obesity-epidemic puzzle. The news media has become a primary source for nutrition information yet results from International Food Information Council surveys indicate that the majority of Americans view the nutrition news they read as inconsistent and confusing. Very recent inquiry provides empirical evidence that nutrition confusion could be fueled by media. Nutrition confusion has been causally linked to “nutrition backlash,” which is complete disregard for even the most strongly supported nutrition advice. Understanding how nutrition research is translated in the news media and the mechanisms that contribute to the translation remains an understudied gap in the literature. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to learn how the news media translates nutrition research and to describe the mechanisms of action in this phenomenon using the recent release of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020–2025 as a case study. This dissertation used methodological principles derived from critical realism, as defined by Wynn and Williams, as well as a six-phase reflexive thematic analytic approach, as developed and described by Braun and Clarke. Findings revealed that the perceptions drawn from the news media were skewed, covering “newsworthy” aspects of the release instead of translating the core nutrition news. It was found that this lack of translation was due to overarching mechanisms of financial incentives. This indicates there is room for improved translation. This work offers recommendations for increased collaboration between the government and the media as well as for future research, including evaluation of the hypothesized mechanisms and the potential to affect the higher levels of the outcomes chain.

Comments

©2021 by Lindsay Yarabek Datlow. All rights reserved.

Open Access

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