Effects of Family-Centered Media Literacy Training on Family Nutrition Outcomes.Prev Sci. 2020 Apr; 21(3):308-318.PS
Parents frustrated about food marketing influences need media management skills to challenge marketing messages and interpret factual content. We tested a media literacy-based, family-centered intervention to reduce effects of appealing, but unrealistic, food marketing. We hypothesized that participation would facilitate family discussion that improves the home dietary environment and increases youth consumption of fruits and vegetables. Parent-child (age 9-14) dyads (N = 189) participated in a matched-group, pretest/posttest field experiment testing a 6-week media literacy-based curriculum. Hypothesis testing employed multiple analysis of covariance and Bayesian multigroup structural equation modeling (MGSEM). Improved nutrition outcomes for parents included talk with youth about food nutrition labels (d = 0.343) and ratio of healthy to unhealthy food in home (d = 0.232); youth improved talk with parent about food nutrition labels (d = 0.211), vegetables eaten yesterday (d = 0.264), and fruit eaten yesterday (d = 1.386). Bayesian MGSEM revealed that in the intervention group, 12 of 17 tested paths were significant (p < .05), compared with only 4 in the control group, with average effect size magnitudes of 0.236 and 0.113, respectively. Media literacy education can empower parents and improve youths' critical thinking to reduce negative effects of food marketing on families and improve use of media to obtain nutrition information that aids dietary choices. This approach reduces the risk for reactance from youth who like media and resist limiting media use, while helping families use media together to make better nutrition decisions.