“We’re Part of the Solution”: Evolution of the Food and Beverage Industry’s Framing of Obesity Concerns Between 2000 and 2012


Andrew Cheyne, Cara Wilking, Laura Nixon, Lori Dorfman, Pamela Mejia, Richard Daynard


food industry, food industry non-profits, framing, individual behavior, nutrition, obesity, policy proposal, public health, public policy


American Journal of Public Health

Year Published:


Policy Summary

This study conducted a framing analysis on 393 news articles that discussed obesity from 2000 to 2012 in five national United States papers: New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and the Chicago Tribune. The arguments most frequently made by the food industry were: 1) industry self-regulation as part of the solution (33%), 2) criticized public policy efforts to prevent obesity (25%), stated their industry products were not responsible for the problem (24%), and that 4) individual food choices were responsible for obesity. Soda industry funded non-profits and trade associations used the personal responsibility claim more often than their soda companies themselves. Before this analysis was conducted, there was a hypothesis that the arguments made by the food industry in the news media were overwhelmingly individual behavior focused. After this analysis was conducted it was determined that individual behavior arguments were definitely present, but not as the dominant argument in the media. Importantly, after policies that are informed by public health work are proposed the work does not end. It is essential for public health advocates to monitor the agruments presented on that topic in the news media and then respond strategically to advance policies for community health. One example of this was the efforts to denormalize individual companies’ products, which paints a more honest picture of a company or product for the public, which helps gain public support for the policy.

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