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J Nutr Educ Behav. 2005 Jan-Feb;37(1):27-32.

Portrayals of food practices and exercise behavior in popular American films.

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Department of Communication, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA.



To describe depictions of food, alcohol, and exercise and sport in popular films.


Content analysis of the 10 top-grossing films each year from 1991 to 2000 (N = 100 films).


Coding reliabilities were assessed with Cohen's kappa. Research questions were addressed with basic descriptive statistics. Associations among variables were examined through a cross-tabulation procedure that corrects for the clustering of exercise and food depictions within movies.


Food and drink appeared regularly in the films analyzed, typically as a background element or prop. On average, food appeared on the screen once every 4.2 minutes. The foods shown were most likely to be fats, oils, and sweets; fruits, vegetables, and dairy products were rarely seen. More than 20% of the food items shown were alcoholic beverages, which were nearly 2 times more likely to be ingested as nonalcohol food items. Planned exercise and sports appeared at a rate of about 2 incidents per hour. These activities rarely received explicit evaluation by characters.


Films frequently portray foods and exercise. These depictions have the potential to cultivate beliefs about normative eating and exercise behavior, suggesting a need for public health professionals to encourage the media to offer healthier images.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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