Psychology, Department of


Public health framing and attribution: Analysis of the first lady’s remarks and news coverage on childhood obesity

Jennifer A. Andersen, University of Nebraska - Lincoln
Lindsey E. Wylie, University of Nebraska-Omaha
Eve M. Brank, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Document Type Article

© 2017 The Author(s).

Open access


First Lady Michelle Obama’s public health promotion “Let’s Move” seeks to place children on a path to better health by giving families access to health education and fostering healthier environments. We examined the use of public health framing and attribution of responsibility in the First Lady’s remarks and newspaper articles reporting on childhood obesity. We coded the website for remarks made by the First Lady regarding the childhood obesity prevention program “Let’s Move.” Of the 103 remarks coded, 35% of the remarks used public health framing. The First Lady’s remarks attributed responsibility and solutions for the childhood obesity crisis in terms of environmental factors, rather than individual factors. Using the same themes, we coded a sample of 260 articles that reported on “Let’s Move” specifically or childhood obesity generally, published during the same time period as the First Lady’s remarks. Approximately 20% of the articles used public health framing and similarly attributed childhood obesity to environmental factors. When comparing the two outlets, themes in the news articles were similar to the First Lady’s remarks; however, each lacked complete public health framing, which may contribute to less effective public health messaging.