Obesity has become one of the main health concerns of modern society. Its coverage has placed much emphasis on personal responsibility. José I Armentia and Flora Marín, of the University of Basque Country, examined the framing used by Spanish daily newspapers El País, La Vanguardia, and El Correo throughout 2015.
During the year, the newspapers published 183 pieces with a reference to obesity, with 59% of the articles completely devoted to the problem. 20% focused on childhood obesity.
All of the papers examined considered obesity to be an important subject: 64% of the stories were positioned as lead stories on the pages on which they appeared. The topic was also considered newsworthy around the year, the authors note. Of the papers, El Correo was responsible for the greatest number of news stories on obesity.
The research found the following frames: responsibility, consequences, solutions/recommendations, causes, and diagnosis. Of these, the solution/recommendations frame was the most dominant (54% of articles). Articles using this frame focused on politics, the pharmaceutical sector, medical intervention, nutrition and a healthy lifestyle. Differences between the newspapers were notable.
Of the articles using the responsibility frame, 47% held individuals and their families responsible for their condition, and individual efforts accounted for 63% of the solutions proposed.
While relatively few in numbers, “more and more coverage in that country stress scientific and political solutions aligned with economic and structural causal factors and economic and social consequences that posit obesity within the context of social responsibility.”
The article “How the Spanish press frames obesity” was published in the journal Journalism and is available online (abstract free).
Picture: untitled by Tero Vesalainen, license CC0 1.0