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Ecol Food Nutr. 2012;51(1):1-21. doi: 10.1080/03670244.2012.635567.

Tracking beverage nutrition information in the news: an evaluation of beverage-related health reports on television news.

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  • 1School of Journalism and Mass Communications, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina 29208, USA.


News media are a primary source of nutrition information for the general public. Beverages are a key product category implicated in the obesity epidemic, but it is unclear how recommendations for healthy beverage consumption patterns are communicated by the news media. This study evaluated the health content of beverage-related news reports on national television newscasts from 2000 to 2008. News reports were coded to assess topic, source attribution, and confusion. Analysis revealed that beverage nutrition messages focused primarily on educating consumers or reports of prevalence. Conflicting or confusing nutrition recommendations were discussed in nearly one in three reports (29%). News reports most often discussed beverage consumption in terms of individual health decision-making, indicating a significant lack of emphasis on public health policy. The findings provide important insights into health-related beverage messages being disseminated by television news outlets and suggest avenues for nutrition researchers and practitioners to engage the media regarding nutrition policy issues.

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