271209 Growing problem of obesity: Effective communication for older adults

Monday, October 29, 2012

Christianne Johnson, MA, CHES , Social Marketing Group, Ogilvy Washington, Washington, DC
Elizabeth Barnett , Social Marketing Group, Ogilvy Washington, Washington, DC
Trish Taylor, PhD , Social Marketing Group, Ogilvy Washington, Washington, DC
Jessica Hanson , Social Marketing Group, Ogilvy Washington, Washington, DC
Carrie Dooher , Social Marketing Group, Ogilvy Washington, Washington, DC
On behalf of the Department of Health and Human Services, Ogilvy conducted a robust qualitative research study to gain a deeper understanding of the growing issue of obesity among older adults 45-65 years of age—a group rarely addressed by current initiatives. Forty focus groups with 250 individuals were conducted during two phases of research across the county with various audiences, including a special focus on those at greater risk for obesity—African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans. Phase 1 exploratory focus groups provided a better understanding of existing attitudes and perceptions related to weight, nutrition, and physical activity, as well as the barriers and key motivators for older adults. Findings show that older adults lack the motivation and self-discipline to put their knowledge of nutrition and physical activity into practice in daily life. Further, they have a low perceived personal risk for obesity or weight-related chronic diseases. The findings exemplify the need for future communications to break through the clutter of obesity messages by startling older adults into action with strong messages that can serve as a wake-up call. Phase 2 focus groups built on these findings to better understand the most powerful messages to communicate with these audiences about obesity and weight management. Four messages were identified as most impactful—consistent across all age, gender and race segments. Surprisingly, we found clear agreement across audiences on preferred tonality, types of messaging and channels of communication. Recommended strategic directions in developing communications campaigns for older adults will be discussed.

Learning Areas:
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
1. Discuss the communications preferences of older adults on the topic of obesity. 2. Analyze the attitudes and perceptions of obesity and weight among older adults. 3. Describe differences among at-risk populations on perceptions of weight management.

Keywords: Communication, Obesity

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been a principal investigator on several qualitative research projects. I have managed many successful public health and health communication programs and have a strong educational background in behavior change theory and health communication.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.