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Televised obesity-prevention advertising across US media markets: exposure and content, 2010–2011

  • Rachel Kornfield (a1), Glen Szczypka (a1), Lisa M Powell (a2) and Sherry L Emery (a1)



To examine levels of exposure and content characteristics for recent televised obesity-prevention campaigns sponsored by state and community health departments, federal agencies, non-profit organizations and television stations in the USA.


Nielsen television ratings for obesity-prevention advertising were collected for the top seventy-five US media markets and were used to calculate household exposure levels for 2010 and 2011. Governmental advertisements were coded for content.


United States.


Average household exposure to obesity-prevention campaigns was 2·6 advertisements per month. Exposure increased by 31 % between 2010 and 2011, largely driven by increases in federal advertisements. In 2011, the federal government accounted for 62 % of obesity-prevention exposure, non-profit organizations for 9 %, community departments for 8 %, state departments for 3 %, and television station-sponsored public-service announcements for 17 %. The greatest percentage increase between 2010 and 2011 was in community advertising, reflecting efforts funded by the Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) programme. Among thirty-four state and community campaigns, the majority advocated both healthy eating and physical activity (53 %). Campaigns typically had positive or neutral emotional valence (94 %). Obesity or overweight was mentioned in 47 % of campaigns, but only 9 % specifically advocated weight loss.


Exposure to televised obesity-prevention advertising increased from 2010 to 2011 and was higher than previously found in 1999–2003, apart from in 2003 during the federal VERB campaign. Nevertheless, exposure remains low relative to advertising for unhealthy foods. New federal campaigns have increased exposure to obesity-prevention advertising nationally, while CPPW grants have increased exposure for targeted areas.

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Televised obesity-prevention advertising across US media markets: exposure and content, 2010–2011

  • Rachel Kornfield (a1), Glen Szczypka (a1), Lisa M Powell (a2) and Sherry L Emery (a1)


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