“Media Influence on Diet Choice and Obesity in African American Women” – Folashade Idowu


Author: Folashade Idowu

Department: Institute for Policy & Civic Engagement, UIC

Faculty: Dr. Joseph Hoereth

The media in the United States serves to broadcast and advertise information to the public. Media consists of various forms of content such as radio, newspapers, television, magazines, etc. Oftentimes, the public has no control over what is being advertised or promoted. Previous studies reveal that media use is correlated to food consumption and that African American women are more heavily impacted compared to the general public (Underwood, 2010). Furthermore, high-calorie foods that are usually nutrient-poor are advertised more frequently in underserved communities. Currently, the media has been shown to have negative impacts on nutritional choice, but some studies reveal that the media promotes healthy eating habits (Kean et al 2012). A literature review was conducted to determine the type of correlation between media and nutritional choices in African American women observed in our society today. Since this area of research hasn’t been studied extensively, the data collected from this study would help to expand awareness and provide the opportunity for further research. The results from the literature review reveal that African American women have the highest prevalence of obesity compared to Whites and media messages may impact views that African American women have about being overweight. Since the media serves as a meaningful way to provide information to the public, implementing policy recommendations via the media could be one of the most effective ways to reduce obesity. Potential policy recommendations include creating programs that advocate for healthy eating habits and lifestyle.  Programs such as ORBIT, an obesity reduction intervention program that serves to assist women to achieve a healthy lifestyle through exercise and healthy eating. Underserved communities should also be educated on the negative impacts of consuming unhealthy foods, which could be accomplished through the creation of awareness programs.

Read more about Folashade's work here