Mediating the spaces of diet and health: A critical analysis of reporting on nutrition and colorectal cancer in the UK

Wells, R. (2016). Mediating the spaces of diet and health: A critical analysis of reporting on nutrition and colorectal cancer in the UK. Geoforum, doi: 10.1016/j.geoforum.2016.05.001

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Abstract

The media are one of the main arenas in which nutrition information is framed and developed. Research has shown a predominantly individualistic framing of diet-related health issues such as obesity, type-2 diabetes and coronary heart disease in international media coverage. These issues are framed as personal, 'lifestyle' issues rather than requiring policy or structural change. In addition, research has shown a tendency in nutrition research and media coverage of it, to emphasize individual ingredients or components more than overall diet. The media have a tendency to report diet related research simplistically, often without contextualization. Taking a case study approach, this paper analyses UK news media coverage and framing of British Medical Journal (BMJ) published research into dietary fibre and bowel cancer risk. I investigate how the health issue fibre and bowel cancer is framed and dissect the process of mediation (from press release to mass media to local media), analysing the shifting 'geographies of responsibility' that result. This paper argues that media coverage of research into diet and bowel cancer can be explained by the technologies, conventions and routines of media representation. Key gatekeepers were found to have an important role in framing the information that was reported. Taking a critical approach, this paper argues that like obesity, type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease, coverage of nutritional means of preventing bowel cancer is set predominantly in the 'lifestyle' frame, laying responsibility for increasing dietary fibre at the door of the individual rather than looking at broader social, economic, or political drivers of dietary change.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2016, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/
Uncontrolled Keywords: Media; Cancer; Diet; Journalism; Food; Responsibility; Health
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
Divisions: School of Social Sciences > Department of Sociology > Centre for Food Policy
URI: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/14866

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