Connections between viewing media about President Trump's dietary habits and fast food consumption intentions: Political differences and implications for public health

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A nationally representative sample (N = 1050) responded to a survey testing possible connections between Americans' attention to media about President Donald J. Trump's preference for fast food, their perceptions of Trump, and public perceptions and behavioral intentions regarding fast food consumption. This survey utilized measures aimed at integrating theory about audience responses to celebrity health issues with the Theory of Planned Behavior and found a significant positive relationship between attention to media about Trump's diet and perceptions that fast food is socially acceptable, as well as intentions to consume it. Some, but not all, media-related variables in the analyses were positively associated with fast food perceptions and intentions, even after controlling for demographic and psychosocial factors. Attention to media specifically about Trump's dietary habits was more often associated with fast food-related perceptions and outcomes than were other types of media attention. Additionally, having a positive parasocial relationship with Trump was positively associated with increased perceived acceptability of fast food. There were also differences in the connections between attention to media about Trump's diet, parasocial relationships with Trump, and fast food perceptions and consumption intentions for audiences with different political affiliations. For instance, attention to media about Trump in general was positively associated with more positive attitudes toward fast food for Republicans, but not for Democrats are those unaffiliated with either political party. Attention to media specifically about Trump's diet was positively related to fast food attitudes for both Republicans and Democrats but not unaffiliated individuals. This study demonstrates the important role of social, political, and media influences in shaping fast food related perceptions and preferences and offers many potential avenues for future research in this area.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104545
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2020


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychology(all)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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