Portrayals of food practices and exercise behavior in popular American films

Robert A Bell, Charles R. Berger, Diana L Cassady, Marilyn S. Townsend

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: To describe depictions of food, alcohol, and exercise and sport in popular films. Design: Content analysis of the 10 top-grossing films each year from 1991 to 2000 (N = 100 films). Analysis: Coding reliabilities were assessed with Cohen's κ. Research questions were addressed with basic descriptive statistics. Associations among variables were examined through a cross-tabulation procedure that corrects for the clustering of exercise and food depictions within movies. Results: Food and drink appeared regularly in the films analyzed, typically as a background element or prop. On average, food appeared on the screen once every 4.2 minutes. The foods shown were most likely to be fats, oils, and sweets; fruits, vegetables, and dairy products were rarely seen. More than 20% of the food items shown were alcoholic beverages, which were nearly 2 times more likely to be ingested as nonalcohol food items. Planned exercise and sports appeared at a rate of about 2 incidents per hour. These activities rarely received explicit evaluation by characters. Conclusions and Implication: Films frequently portray foods and exercise. These depictions have the potential to cultivate beliefs about normative eating and exercise behavior, suggesting a need for public health professionals to encourage the media to offer healthier images.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-32
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Nutrition Education and Behavior
Volume37
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2005

Keywords

  • Exercise
  • Film
  • Food
  • Movies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Education
  • Food Science

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