Comparison of calcium and weight loss information in teen-focused versus women's magazines over two four-year periods (1986-1989 and 1991-1994)

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Virginia Tech


Specialty magazines play a role in shaping how females of all ages view the world and themselves. This world for teens is often focused on dating, fashion and the evolving and conflicting issues of self-confidence and body image. Home, health and career messages predominate women's magazines. A young woman retains the opportunity to increase her bone density through her late twenties at which time bone density holds steady until the onset of menopause. The 1989 calcium Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) were increased from 800 mg/d to 1200 mg/d for only one female age group: 19-22 y, which was extended to 19-24 y to maximize the opportunity for peak bone accretion. In recognition of this change and the inverse relationship that exists between bone mass and body weight, the frequency of calcium and weight loss content was compared between teen-focused magazines (Seventeen and Mademoiselle) and women's magazines (Good Housekeeping and Ladies Home Journal) for two four-year periods (1986-89 and 1991- 94). Women's magazines were found to have 20 times the calcium coverage in overall area (ads, articles and columns) and 40 times the number of calcium ads as found in teen-focused magazines. In contrast, teen-focused magazines published 1.4 times more weight loss area than was found in women's magazines. The calcium message has primarily been offered to women past their best opportunity to affect bone mass. There was no impact on calcium coverage for either magazine type due to the release of the 1989 RDAs.



calcium, bone loss