Mass media campaigns for physical activity

Mass media campaigns can provide physical activity messages to large and broad audiences using newspapers, radio, television, and billboards. These campaigns aim to increase knowledge, influence attitudes and beliefs, and change behavior (CG-Physical activity).

Expected Beneficial Outcomes (Rated)

  • Increased physical activity

  • Improved physical fitness

Other Potential Beneficial Outcomes

  • Improved weight status

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is insufficient evidence to determine whether mass media obesity prevention campaigns increase physical activity and improve physical fitness (CG-Physical activity, ). Available evidence suggests that mass media campaigns may raise awareness and increase motivation to prevent weight gain (Wammes 2012, AHA-Mozaffarian 2012). However, additional evidence is necessary to determine effects.

Impact on Disparities

Likely to increase disparities

Implementation Examples

North Carolina’s ESMM NC and California’s Project Lean are examples of state-sponsored mass media interventions to promote obesity prevention. The Weight of the Nation campaign produced by HBO and the Institute of Medicine (IOM) is an example of a privately supported campaign. This campaign includes a four-part documentary series and a web-based tool.

Implementation Resources

ESMM NC-Media room - Eat Smart, Move More North Carolina (ESMM NC). Media room.

Rudd-Shehan 2015 - Shehan C, Harris JL. Rudd brief: Trends in television food advertising to young people, 2014 update. UCONN Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity; 2015.

CC-WOTN resources - Community Commons (CC). The Weight of the Nation (WOTN) screening to action resources: Quickstart guides.

Citations - Evidence

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CG-Physical activity - The Guide to Community Preventive Services (The Community Guide). Physical activity.

Cochrane-Baker 2011* - Baker P, Francis D, Soares J, Weightman A, Foster C. Community wide interventions for increasing physical activity. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2011;(4):CD008366.

Wammes 2012 - Wammes B, Oenema A, Brug J. The evaluation of a mass media campaign aimed at weight gain prevention among young Dutch adults. Obesity. 2007;15(11):2780–9.

AHA-Mozaffarian 2012 - Mozaffarian D, Afshin A, Benowitz NL, et al. Population approaches to improve diet, physical activity, and smoking habits: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association (AHA). Circulation. 2012;126(12):1514–63.

Citations - Implementation Examples

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ESMM NC - Eat Smart, Move More North Carolina (ESMM NC).

Project Lean - California Project Lean. Leaders encouraging activity and nutrition.

Weight of the Nation - Home Box Office (HBO). The weight of the nation: Confronting America’s obesity epidemic.

Date Last Updated

Aug 20, 2015