• Fit for public consumption: An exploratory study of the reporting of nutrition research in UK tabloids and public attitudes towards it

      Hogard, Elaine; Basu, Andrea J. (University of Liverpool (University College Chester)North East Wales NHS Trust, 2005-11)
      Newspapers constitute a popular form of mass media within the UK; presenting a valuable opportunity for disseminating key nutrition and health messages. This qualitative, exploratory study examined tabloid articles reporting on nutrition research, and public attitudes towards them. All popular tabloids were included and articles were sampled over a full calendar month. A tool was designed to test for accuracy with respect to the original research, balance, and presence of appropriate contextualised information. Thirty-nine features were systematically assessed using the tool. Two focus groups were conducted to explore public attitudes towards specific tabloid articles. Questions were centred on the cognitive, affective and behavioural elements of attitude formation. The groups were audio recorded, transcribed, and emerging themes were established. Findings indicated that tabloid articles were essentially inaccurate, biased, and not effectively contextualised. Attitudes expressed within the focus groups were largely negative and suggested that tabloid articles could confuse members of the public. Articles were more likely to be disregarded than acted upon, however there was some value attached to newspapers providing nutrition information, inferring that opportunities to effectively use this media are not completely lost.