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Despite the importance of cooking in modern life, public perceptions about what it means to cook are unknown. We aimed to examine perceptions of cooking and their association with cooking confidence, attitudes and behaviours in the USA.
We designed and fielded a nationally representative survey among US adults (n 1112) in April 2015. We used factor analysis to identify perceptions about cooking and multivariate ordered logit and Poisson models to explore associations between those perceptions and cooking confidence, attitudes and behaviours.
Nationally representative web-based survey of US adults.
US adults aged ≥18 years.
Americans conceptualized cooking in three ways: the use of scratch ingredients, convenience foods and not using heat. Respondents who perceived cooking as including convenience foods were less confident in their ability to cook from scratch (OR=0·52, P<0·001) and less likely to enjoy cooking (OR=0·68, P=0·01) than those who did not. Although individuals who perceived cooking as including only scratch ingredients reported cooking dinner (4·31 times/week) and using packaged/boxed products (0·95 times/week) the least frequently, few notable differences in the frequency of cooking meals were observed.
Cooking frequency is similar among US adults regardless of how they perceive cooking, but cooking confidence and enjoyment are lowest among Americans who perceive cooking as including the use of convenience foods. These insights should inform the development of more specific measures of cooking behaviour as well as meaningful and targeted public health messages to encourage healthier cooking.
Childhood obesity is a growing problem in the USA. As parents play a major role in shaping a child's diet, the present study examines food advertisements (ads) directed towards parents in parenting and family magazines.
Given the potential for magazines to influence attitudes and knowledge, we used content analysis to examine the food ads appearing in four issues each of six different parenting and family magazines from 2008 (n 24).
Food ads in parenting and family magazines.
We identified 476 food ads, which represented approximately 32 % of all ads in the magazine sample. Snack foods (13 %) were the most frequently observed food ads, followed by dairy products (7 %). The most frequently used sales theme was ‘taste’ (55 %). Some ads promoted foods as ‘healthy’ (14 %) and some made specific health claims (18 %), such as asserting the product would help lower cholesterol. In addition to taste and health and nutrition appeals, we found several themes used in ad messages to promote products, including the following: ‘convenience’, ‘economical’, ‘fun’ and ‘helping families spend time together’. We also found that over half (n 405, 55·9 %) of products (n 725) advertised were products of poor nutritional quality based on total fat, saturated fat, sodium, protein, sugar and fibre contents, and that ads for such products were slightly more likely to use certain sales themes like ‘fun’ (P = 0·04) and ‘no guilt’ (P = 0·03).
Interventions should be developed to help parents understand nutritional information seen in food ads and to learn how various foods contribute to providing a balanced family diet.
The news media are an important source of dietary information. Understanding news content, particularly the portrayal of risks and benefits of certain foods, is relevant for effective public health communication. Fish consumption may reduce risk for CVD and aid neonatal development, but recent work shows public confusion about the benefits of fish, challenged by the evidence of mercury and other contaminants in fish. We present an analysis of the messages about fish in US news media over 15 years, identifying trends in coverage and highlighting implications of current messaging.
We conducted a descriptive text analysis and coded for manifest content: locality of focus, story frame, reference to studies, inclusion of government guidelines and portrayal of uncertainty. We identified chronological patterns and analysed the data for statistically significant relationships between media source and content.
News stories were selected from five daily newspapers and five television networks (1993–2007).
We analysed 310 health-related news stories on fish.
Risk messages outweighed benefit messages four to one, and health benefits only became prominent after 2002. No difference existed in coverage topic by news source. Fish consumption has increasingly become a national issue.
With the bulk of messages about fish consumption focused on risk, the benefits may be lost to consumers. This gap creates a need for public health to work with news media to more effectively communicate benefits and risks around fish consumption and health and to consider options for communicating tailored information where it can be more readily utilised.
There is strong evidence that what we eat and how it is produced affects climate change.
The present paper examines coverage of food system contributions to climate change in top US newspapers.
Using a sample of sixteen leading US newspapers from September 2005 to January 2008, two coders identified ‘food and climate change’ and ‘climate change’ articles based on specified criteria. Analyses examined variation across time and newspaper, the level of content relevant to food systems’ contributions to climate change, and how such content was framed.
There were 4582 ‘climate change’ articles in these newspapers during this period. Of these, 2·4 % mentioned food or agriculture contributions, with 0·4 % coded as substantially focused on the issue and 0·5 % mentioning food animal contributions. The level of content on food contributions to climate change increased across time. Articles initially addressed the issue primarily in individual terms, expanding to address business and government responsibility more in later articles.
US newspaper coverage of food systems’ effects on climate change during the study period increased, but still did not reflect the increasingly solid evidence of the importance of these effects. Increased coverage may lead to responses by individuals, industry and government. Based on co-benefits with nutritional public health messages and climate change’s food security threats, the public health nutrition community has an important role to play in elaborating and disseminating information about food and climate change for the US media.
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