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Promoting Healthy Eating and Physical Activity

Short-Term Effects of a Mass Media Campaign
Published:January 22, 2007DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2006.11.002

      Background

      Soaring obesity levels present a severe health risk in the United States, especially in low-income minority populations.

      Intervention

      High-frequency paid television and radio advertising, as well as bus and streetcar signage.

      Setting/participants

      A mass media campaign in New Orleans to promote walking and fruit and vegetable consumption in a low-income, predominantly African-American urban population. Messages tailored with consideration of the African-American majority.

      Design

      Random-digit-dial telephone surveys using cross-sectional representative samples at baseline in 2004 and following the onset of the campaign in 2005.

      Measures

      Survey items on campaign message recall; attitudes toward walking, snack food avoidance, and fruit and vegetable consumption; and behaviors related to fruit and vegetable consumption, snack food consumption, and utilitarian and leisure walking.

      Results

      From baseline, there were significant increases in message recall measures, positive attitudes toward fruit and vegetable consumption, and positive attitudes toward walking. Behaviors did not change significantly. In 2005, message recall measures were associated with positive levels of each of the outcome variables.

      Conclusions

      Over 5 months, the media campaign appeared to have stimulated improvements in attitudes toward healthy diet and walking behaviors addressed by the campaign. These findings encourage the continuation of the media campaign, with future evaluation to consider whether the behavioral measures change.
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