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Mass media campaigns for physical activity

Health Factors: Diet & Exercise
Decision Makers: Local Government State Government Grantmakers Nonprofit Leaders Public Health Professionals & Advocates
Evidence Rating: Insufficient Evidence
Population Reach: 50-99% of WI's population
Impact on Disparities: Likely to increase disparities

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Mass media campaigns can provide physical activity messages to large and broad audiences using newspapers, radio, television, and billboards. These campaigns aim to increase knowledge, influence attitudes and beliefs, and change behavior (CG-Physical activity).

Expected Beneficial Outcomes

Increased physical activity
Improved physical fitness
Improved weight status

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is insufficient evidence to determine whether mass media obesity prevention campaigns increase physical activity and improve physical fitness (CG-Physical activity, Cochrane-Baker 2011). Available evidence suggests that mass media campaigns may raise awareness and increase motivation to prevent weight gain (Wammes 2012, AHA-Mozaffarian 2012). However, additional evidence is necessary to determine effects.


United States

North Carolina’s ESMM NC and California’s Project Lean are examples of state-sponsored mass media interventions to promote obesity prevention. The Weight of the Nation campaign produced by HBO and the Institute of Medicine (IOM) is an example of a privately supported campaign. This campaign includes a four-part documentary series and a web-based tool.

Implementation Resources

CC-WOTN resources - Community Commons (CC). The Weight of the Nation (WOTN) screening to action resources: Quickstart guides. Accessed on May 10, 2018
ESMM NC-Media room - Eat Smart, Move More North Carolina (ESMM NC). Media room. Accessed on January 14, 2016
Rudd-Shehan 2015 - Shehan C, Harris JL. Rudd brief: Trends in television food advertising to young people, 2014 update. UCONN Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity; 2015. Accessed on March 7, 2016

Citations - Description

CG-Physical activity - The Guide to Community Preventive Services (The Community Guide). Physical activity. Accessed on October 5, 2018

Citations - Evidence

AHA-Mozaffarian 2012 - Mozaffarian D, Afshin A, Benowitz NL, et al. Population approaches to improve diet, physical activity, and smoking habits: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association (AHA). Circulation. 2012;126(12):1514–63. Accessed on September 26, 2018
CG-Physical activity - The Guide to Community Preventive Services (The Community Guide). Physical activity. Accessed on October 5, 2018
Cochrane-Baker 2011* - Baker P, Francis D, Soares J, Weightman A, Foster C. Community wide interventions for increasing physical activity. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2011;(4):CD008366. Accessed on December 14, 2015
Wammes 2012 - Wammes B, Oenema A, Brug J. The evaluation of a mass media campaign aimed at weight gain prevention among young Dutch adults. Obesity. 2007;15(11):2780–9. Accessed on November 20, 2015

Citations - Implementation

ESMM NC - Eat Smart, Move More North Carolina (ESMM NC). Accessed on March 1, 2018
Project Lean - California Project Lean. Leaders encouraging activity and nutrition. Accessed on February 1, 2016
Weight of the Nation - Home Box Office (HBO). The weight of the nation: Confronting America’s obesity epidemic. Accessed on November 10, 2015

Page Last Updated

August 20, 2015

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