Can The Media Solve Climbing Obesity Rates? part 1

Hunger and malnutrition are major global nutrition issues that affect the health and development of populations. These states can arise from financial disparities as well as natural disasters. For example, when countries experience severe droughts that wipe out crops, famine can result and greatly affect populations at large.  While food aid exists to help alleviate the burden associated with these situations, malnutrition is still a serious public health issue, particularly in overpopulated, low-income and low-resource countries. It is estimated that international hunger rates are rising and that children are largely affected with over 155 million children suffering from stunting [1]. Paradoxically, while malnutrition still exists in many countries, international rates of overweight/obesity are skyrocketing. In 2016, the World Health Organization reported that roughly 39% of adults over the age of 17 were overweight [2]. About 13% of the population is obese. These findings leave public health professionals with two challenges: 1) increasing food access among populations at risk for malnutrition and 2) promoting weight management at a populations level. In addition to these problems, public health professionals encounter the challenge of creating a substantial impact on large populations with limited financial capital and resources. Public health professionals must be intentional about choosing the best approaches to public health issues. I believe the most effective strategy for reducing overweight/obesity involves using media to promoting healthy dietary choices and behaviors. In particular, mass media campaigns and marketing regulations can be used to influence populations’ nutritional behaviors and food purchasing patterns.