Tracking Policymakers’ Acquisition and Use of Research Evidence Regarding Childhood Obesity in the News Media

How does the news media influence the use of research evidence in policy deliberations and decisions regarding childhood obesity?

The news media is an important broker of research evidence for policymakers. Media has the power to influence what research evidence gets into the policy sphere, how research findings are interpreted, and how they are framed in terms of policy choices. By collecting and coding both news media and federal policy documents related to four policy initiatives focused on childhood obesity, the PIs will examine the extent to which the news media has influenced the use of research evidence in federal policy around childhood obesity from 2000 to the present. In addition, they will test the mechanisms by which the media influences policymakers’ understanding and use of research evidence. As this is the first major study to focus on the news media’s role in brokering research evidence to federal policymakers, an exploratory portion of the study will also seek to identify the factors that influence journalists’ coverage of research evidence on childhood obesity and how policymakers perceive that coverage. This study utilizes a longitudinal mixed-methods approach that combines document review, network analyses, and interviews

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