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Prev Med. 1999 Nov;29(5):414-21.

Using mass media to promote healthy eating: A community-based demonstration project.

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  • 1Community Health Promotion, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia 26506-6116, USA.



Many question whether mass media, in the absence of other programming, can produce significant and sustained behavior change.


The 1% Or Less campaign in Wheeling, West Virginia (population 35,000), used paid advertising and public relations to encourage members of one community to switch from whole or 2% milk (high-fat milk) to 1% or fat-free milk (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.


In the intervention city, 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 (z = 13.1, P < 0.0001).


A media-only approach was sufficient to encourage a significant proportion of the people in one community to alter the dietary habit targeted by the intervention.

Copyright 1999 American Health Foundation and Academic Press.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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