The Surgeon General's Call To Action To Prevent and Decrease Overweight and Obesity
Setting 4: Media and Communications
The media can provide essential functions in overweight and obesity prevention efforts. From a public education and social marketing standpoint, the media can disseminate health messages and display healthy behaviors aimed at changing dietary habits and exercise patterns. In addition, the media can provide a powerful forum for community members who are addressing the social and environmental influences on dietary and physical activity patterns.
- Emphasize to media professionals that the primary concern of overweight and obesity is one of health rather than appearance.
- Emphasize to media professionals the disproportionate burden of overweight and obesity in low-income and racial and ethnic minority populations and the need for culturally sensitive health messages.
- Communicate the importance of prevention of overweight through balancing food intake with physical activity at all ages.
- Promote the recognition of inappropriate weight change.
- Build awareness of the importance of social and environmental influences on making appropriate diet and physical activity choices.
- Provide professional education for media professionals on policy areas related to diet and physical activity.
- Emphasize to media professionals the need to develop uniform health messages about physical activity and nutrition that are consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
- Conduct a national campaign to foster public awareness of the health benefits of regular physical activity, healthful dietary choices, and maintaining a healthy weight, based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
- Encourage truthful and reasonable consumer goals for weight loss programs and weight management products.
- Incorporate messages about proper nutrition, including eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, and regular physical activity in youth-oriented TV programming.
- Train nutrition and exercise scientists and specialists in media advocacy skills that will empower them to disseminate their knowledge to a broad audience.
- Encourage community-based advertising campaigns to balance messages that may encourage consumption of excess calories and inactivity generated by fast food industries and by industries that promote sedentary behaviors.
- Encourage media professionals to utilize actors’ influences as role models to demonstrate eating and physical activity lifestyles for health rather than for appearance.
- Encourage media professionals to employ actors of diverse sizes.
Research and Evaluation
- Evaluate the impact of community media advocacy campaigns designed to achieve public policy and health-related goals.
- Conduct consumer research to ensure that media messages are positive, realistic, relevant, consistent, and achievable.
- Increase research on the effects of popular media images of ideal body types and their potential health impact, particularly on young women.
Last revised: January 11, 2007