A media advocacy intervention linking health disparities and food insecurity.
Rock, Melanie J
Persaud, Steven A
Thomas, Karen L
Rock, Melanie J and McIntyre, Lynn and Persaud, Steven A and Thomas, Karen L (2011) A media advocacy intervention linking health disparities and food insecurity. Health education research.
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Media advocacy is a well-established strategy for transmitting health messages to the public. This paper discusses a media advocacy intervention that raised issues about how the public interprets messages about the negative effects of poverty on population health. In conjunction with the publication of a manuscript illustrating how income-related food insecurity leads to disparities related to the consumption of a popular food product across Canada (namely, Kraft Dinner®), we launched a media intervention intended to appeal to radio, television, print and Internet journalists. All the media coverage conveyed our intended message that food insecurity is a serious population health problem, confirming that message framing, personal narratives and visual imagery are important in persuading media outlets to carry stories about poverty as a determinant of population health. Among politicians and members of the public (through on-line discussions), the coverage provoked on-message as well as off-message reactions. Population health researchers and health promotion practitioners should anticipate mixed reactions to media advocacy interventions, particularly in light of new Internet technologies. Opposition to media stories regarding the socio-economic determinants of population health can provide new insights into how we might overcome challenges in translating evidence into preventive interventions.