Year of Publication

2015

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Document Type

Master's Thesis

College

Communication and Information

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Dr. Donald Helme

Abstract

Research is necessary to uncover ways to improve adolescent nutrition and reduce obesity rates, particularly in the Appalachian region, which has high rates of food insecurity and adolescent obesity. The current study examines rural cultural norms about food, memorable messages adolescents received about nutrition, and the sources of identified memorable messages. Adolescents shared memorable messages during comprehensive, semi-structured, small group interviews in which participants revealed their individual experiences. Thematic framework analysis is used to present the range and nature of memorable messages about nutrition and to develop strategies for future health campaigns and interventions. This qualitative method of sequential inductive analysis provides transparency of data and resulting interpretations through thematic identification and indexing. Analysis revealed themes of messages that featured critical pieces of the rule-structure of memorable messages – specifically, adherence and consequence regarding nutritional behaviors. Prominent memorable messages of adherence included topics of balance (e.g., MyPlate), type (e.g., junk food), and timing (e.g., “don’t eat after 7 p.m.”). Messages with elements of consequence included communication of short-term (e.g., “breakfast gets your blood flowing) and long-term consequence (e.g., obesity, etc.). Adolescents identified family members, educators, and media as salient sources of memorable messages.

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