Double Sunrise Young Women's Health: early teen to college years

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Media Education: Distorted health information in the media

Studies show that for young women, the third most common source for health care information is from magazines. Yet what they don't know is how distorted this information can be.

Jean Kilbourne in Can't Buy My Love explains clearly the connection between advertisers messages and the health problems of today's adolescent women. She also points out that distroted health information is not an occasional slip, but a pattern.

What canprofessionals do? Media Education is a powerful intervention that can be incorporated into even a brief encounter or office visit. Here's a simple one that I do with my patients:

Look at the cover of a magazine and ask:
1.) "Are there any conflicting messages here?"

What do you see on this front cover?
What do you see on this front cover?

2.) "Find the title of the health article.... Inside, the article says that there are three major risk factors for heart disease. The first two are obesity and inactivity. What do you think the third one is? (Most will say "smoking", or if they don't, I say, 'I thought the third would be smoking.')

This article says that 'diabetes' is the third risk factor. Do you think that the ad on the back cover gives you a clue to why cigarettes are not mentioned like we thought they might be?"

What do you see on this back cover?
What do you see on this back cover?

3.) "Do you think that magazine health information could be distorted by advertisers that sponsor the magazine?"

This is a simple but important exercise to do with young women because most girls use the media as a primary source of health information. Referrals to reliable and safe health resources as are important as well.

"Keep connected" as we learn more about how health care providers can help young women today.

Keeping connected in order to grow

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