Promoting Nutrition Among Children: The Role of Media

Nutrition Coverage
Nutrition Coverage


According to a Canadian government data on nutrition in developing countries, over 2.3 billion people suffer from malnutrition globally in one form or another. The data noted that 928 million people do not consume enough food, 2 billion people do not consume enough vitamins and minerals, 149 million children under five are too short for their age (stunted), 45 million children under five do not weigh enough for their height (wasted) and 39 million children under the age of five weigh too much for their height. Alarmingly, the data further suggest that many children lack nutritious food with essential vitamins and minerals leading to high child mortality before the age of five. 

In a further announcement by UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell in relation to the 2022 edition of The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World  (SOFI), that global hunger has risen to as many as  828 million in 2021. This is an increase of 46 million since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although positive strides have been made in food security maintenance, global trends in child undernutrition continue to be a major concern. This concern is also impacted by the war in Ukraine. The war is affecting grain supply and ready-to-use therapeutic foods for children with severe malnutrition. It is against these global nutrition challenges among children that UNICEF has posted a clarion call to the world and the media that “we must take a bolder action now”. 

The Media’s Critical Role

The media continues to act as a mechanism for social change.  From its agenda setting perspectives, media institutions through critical editorial efforts are able to inform, instruct and educate society on issues that promotes human development and sanctity in society.  Thus, the media has the power to interpret issues affecting humanity and subsequently effect the needed action from policy makers, partners and society at large towards a specific development agenda. For instance, how the media frames malnutrition among children could spark the needed action for change. To a larger extent, media’s editorial advocacy could be positioned to create awareness about nutrition deficiencies among children and offer constructive opinions. 

In spite of the effective role media could play in setting the necessary social-change and developmental agenda towards the management of child malnutrition, competing editorials decision in news gatekeeping could prevent malnutrition issues from passing through the editor’s news gate.  A study on the Ghanaian media’s coverage of child nutrition and health news content analysis depicts the following:

 Ghanaian Media Child Health and Nutrition Coverage: Child Nutrition only 2%

The study analysed 48 Ghanaian news channels of Print, Radio, TV and Online for child related health news from January to December, 2021. The methodology for the analysis was news content analysis. Total news of 10,794 was analysed with coder reliability results at 85%. Covid-19 gained the highest coverage of 50%, followed by community health initiatives 27%, Child health 4% and with Child nutrition recording as low as 2% coverage. These results suggest that the media needs to be encouraged with the needed support and partnership in the promotion of child nutrition initiatives. UNICEF Ghana’s efforts in partnership with government and other agencies should be commended and strengthen to meet the UN’s 2030 sustainable agenda for improved nutrition and the promotion of all children’s well-being. 

Towards the future, the expectation from the media in promoting human development should be linked to scientific media monitoring instruments. Unfortunately, policy makers have failed to some extent in the recognition of media content monitoring and its impact in the holistic assessment of the media’s role in the promotion of the UN’s sustainable agenda. Perhaps, it is time we find answers to this global rhetoric: How can we hold the media accountable, or establish whether the   media accords SDGs agenda with highest or lowest editorial attention without any consistent scientific measuring instruments and results? This is one of the ways we can meet   UNICEF’s clarion call to the world and the media that “we must take a bolder action now”.

The Author:

Messan Mawugbe (PhD),

 Strategic Communication Consultant

The Meadows: Castle Rock, Colorado

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