Increasing public support for food-industry related, obesity prevention policies: The role of a taste-engineering frame and contextualized values

Selena E. Ortiz, Frederick J. Zimmerman, Gary J. Adler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Support for policies to combat obesity is often undermined by a public sense that obesity is largely a matter of personal responsibility. Industry rhetoric is a major contributor to this perception, as the soda/fast food/big food companies emphasize choice and individual agency in their efforts to neutralize policies that are burdensome. Yet obesity experts recognize that environmental forces play a major role in obesity. We investigate whether exposure to a taste-engineering frame increases support for food and beverage policies that address obesity. A taste-engineering frame details strategies used by the food industry to engineer preferences and increase the over-consumption of processed foods and sugary beverages. We also examine the effects of exposure to two contextualized values that have recently been promoted in expert discourse-consumer knowledge and consumer safety - on public support of policies. Our research shows how causal frames and contextualized values may effectively produce support for new obesity policies. Methods: We use an online survey experiment to test the effects of exposure to a taste-engineering frame (TEF), the value of consumer knowledge (CK), or the value of consumer safety (CS), on level of support for a range of policies. A random sample of adults, age 18 + living in the United States was included in the study (N = 2580). Ordered logistic regression was used to measure the effects of treatment exposure.The primary outcome was level-of-support for four (4) food-industry related, obesity prevention policies (aka food and beverage policies): 1) require food-manufacturers to disclose the amount of additives in food products on food packaging; 2) require food-manufacturers to advertise food products in accordance with their actual nutritional value; 3) prohibit all high-fat, high-sugar food advertising on television programming watched primarily by children; and 4) increase healthy food availability in work sites, schools, and hospitals. Findings: These data suggest that a taste-engineering frame and contextualized values significantly increase public support for many of the food and beverage policies tested. Conclusions: Applying a taste-engineering frame and/or contextualized values to address obesity advances a population-based policy agenda to counteract the effects of food-industry strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)142-153
Number of pages12
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Volume156
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2016

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food and luxury products industry
Food Industry
public support
Obesity
engineering
food
Food and Beverages
Food
Nutrition Policy
Values
Public Policy
Food Packaging
Fast Foods
Safety
Food Additives
Industry
Television
Nutritive Value
Workplace
expert

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science

Cite this

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title = "Increasing public support for food-industry related, obesity prevention policies: The role of a taste-engineering frame and contextualized values",
abstract = "Background: Support for policies to combat obesity is often undermined by a public sense that obesity is largely a matter of personal responsibility. Industry rhetoric is a major contributor to this perception, as the soda/fast food/big food companies emphasize choice and individual agency in their efforts to neutralize policies that are burdensome. Yet obesity experts recognize that environmental forces play a major role in obesity. We investigate whether exposure to a taste-engineering frame increases support for food and beverage policies that address obesity. A taste-engineering frame details strategies used by the food industry to engineer preferences and increase the over-consumption of processed foods and sugary beverages. We also examine the effects of exposure to two contextualized values that have recently been promoted in expert discourse-consumer knowledge and consumer safety - on public support of policies. Our research shows how causal frames and contextualized values may effectively produce support for new obesity policies. Methods: We use an online survey experiment to test the effects of exposure to a taste-engineering frame (TEF), the value of consumer knowledge (CK), or the value of consumer safety (CS), on level of support for a range of policies. A random sample of adults, age 18 + living in the United States was included in the study (N = 2580). Ordered logistic regression was used to measure the effects of treatment exposure.The primary outcome was level-of-support for four (4) food-industry related, obesity prevention policies (aka food and beverage policies): 1) require food-manufacturers to disclose the amount of additives in food products on food packaging; 2) require food-manufacturers to advertise food products in accordance with their actual nutritional value; 3) prohibit all high-fat, high-sugar food advertising on television programming watched primarily by children; and 4) increase healthy food availability in work sites, schools, and hospitals. Findings: These data suggest that a taste-engineering frame and contextualized values significantly increase public support for many of the food and beverage policies tested. Conclusions: Applying a taste-engineering frame and/or contextualized values to address obesity advances a population-based policy agenda to counteract the effects of food-industry strategies.",
author = "Ortiz, {Selena E.} and Zimmerman, {Frederick J.} and Adler, {Gary J.}",
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