Health Promotion Journal of Australia Health Promotion Journal of Australia Society
Journal of the Australian Health Promotion Association
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Sitting ducks face chronic disease: an analysis of newspaper coverage of sedentary behaviour as a health issue in Australia 2000–2012

Josephine Y. Chau A E , Catriona Bonfiglioli B , Amy Zhong A , Zeljko Pedisic A C , Michelle Daley D , Bronwyn McGill A and Adrian Bauman A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Prevention Research Collaboration, School of Public Health, Sydney Medical School, Level 6, The Hub, Charles Perkins Centre, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.

B Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Technology Sydney, City Campus, 15 Broadway, Ultimo, NSW 2007, Australia.

C Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living, Victoria University, Footscray Park Campus, Ballarat Road, Footscray, Vic. 3001, Australia.

D National Heart Foundation of Australia, New South Wales Division, Level 3, 80 William Street, Sydney, NSW 2011, Australia.

E Corresponding author. Email: josephine.chau@sydney.edu.au

Health Promotion Journal of Australia 28(2) 139-143 https://doi.org/10.1071/HE16054
Submitted: 11 May 2016  Accepted: 3 November 2016   Published: 12 January 2017

Abstract

Issue addressed: This study examines how sedentary behaviour (too much sitting) was covered as a health issue by Australian newspapers and how physical activity was framed within this newspaper coverage.

Methods: Articles featuring sedentary behaviour published in Australian newspapers between 2000 and 2012 were analysed for content and framing. Main outcome measures were volume, number and content of newspaper articles; framing and types of sedentary behaviour; responsibility for the problem of and solutions to high levels of sedentary behaviour; and physical activity mentions and how it was framed within sedentary behaviour coverage.

Results: Out of 48 articles, prolonged sitting was framed as bad for health (52%) and specifically as health compromising for office workers (25%). Adults who sat a lot were framed as ‘easy targets’ for ill health (21% of headlines led with ‘sitting ducks’ or ‘sitting targets’). Prolonged sitting was framed as an issue of individual responsibility (>90%) with less mention of environmental and sociocultural contributors. Thirty-six of 48 articles mentioned physical activity; 39% stated that being physically active does not matter if a person sits for prolonged periods of time or that the benefits of physical activity are undone by too much sitting.

Conclusions: News coverage should reflect the full socio-ecological model of sedentary behaviour and continually reinforce the independent and well-established benefits of health-enhancing physical activity alongside the need to limit prolonged sitting.

So what?: It is important that the entire ‘move more, sit less, every day!’ message is communicated by news media.

Key words: health communication, mass media, physical activity.


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