Message framing in the context of the national menu-labelling policy: a comparison of public health and private industry interests.
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We conducted a content analysis of public comments to understand the key framing approaches used by private industry v. public health sector, with the goal of informing future public health messaging, framing and advocacy in the context of policy making.
Comments to the proposed menu-labelling policy were extracted from Regulations.gov and analysed. A framing matrix was used to organize and code key devices and themes. Documents were analysed using content analysis with Dedoose software.
Recent national nutrition-labelling regulations in the USA provide a timely opportunity to understand message framing in relation to obesity prevention and policy.
We examined a total of ninety-seven documents submitted on behalf of organizations (private industry, n 64; public health, n 33).
Public health focused on positive health consequences of the policy, used a social justice frame and supported its arguments with academic data. Industry was more critical of the policy; it used a market justice frame that emphasized minimal regulation, depicted its members as small, family-run businesses, and illustrated points with humanizing examples.
Public health framing should counter and consider engaging directly with non-health-related arguments made by industry. Public health should include more powerful framing devices to convey their messages, including metaphors and humanizing examples.