The Media's Influence on Health

2740 words 11 pages
The mass media (including everything from television and music to popular novels and fan cultures), creates an endless and accessible flow of information. "What we know about the world beyond out immediate surroundings comes to us via the media (Yates 1999)." The technology of electronic media and the art of advertising have combined to create very powerful tools of influence. These tools are capable of shaping the attitudes, values and behaviors of large numbers of people (Walsh.) By identifying and examining the various forms of health information contained in the media, problems arise because the media does not present it's messages in a neutral and straightforward way. Because the media distorts reality, the public must become more …show more content…

By examining these areas, we can begin to address and examine how media literacy can be used to reduce the negative influences mass media are believed to have on young people's health-related attitudes and behaviors (Yates.) Proper nutrition is especially important for adolescents. Early dietary decisions can have lifelong health implications such as obesity, poor nutrition, inadequate female reproductive development (Childhood Obesity, Kaiser Family Foundation.) The media often perpetuates poor diet decisions. "One study estimated that early adolescents between two and 12 contributed $82.4 billion in food and beverage purchases in 1990 (Walsh.)" Even more alarming is the issue of body image. Young adolescents are led to believe that the media-created image of the ideal body is how their bodies should look. In an attempt to have the perfect body, females often end up adopting fad diets that may lead to more serious eating disorders. Boys are susceptible to media body images because they want to build muscles like many actors and sports heroes. This desire to "bulk up" can lead to poor diet and possibly the use of steroids. Awareness in students could be increased by having them examine existing advertisements and determine how males and females are typically portrayed (American Parents, 2004.) An effort must be made not to depict either


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