Obesity framing in Botswana online newspapers: Its implications for health policy and Physical Education pedagogy

  • M.M. Mokgwathi
  • J Shehu
  • A.S. Faros
  • M Moruisi
Keywords: Health communication, obesity, risks, protective factors, awareness


This discourse draws on agenda-setting and framing theories to understand how obesity issues are defined and presented in Botswana newspapers. Obesity is a salient public health issue whose framing involves various individuals and organizations such as physicians, dieticians, exercise scientists, policy makers, economists, physical educators, parents, peers, researchers, curriculum developers, book publishers, professional bodies, government agencies, non-governmental organizations and the mass media. The way obesity is framed in public discourse and health communications in terms of causes, repercussions, prevention and solutions significantly affects behavioural and policy change. Given the public health significance of obesity and the implications of its representations for health policy and lifestyles, it is therefore important to scrutinize the media images, messages, claims and emphases about the condition in specific national context. Using a qualitative research approach, the content of 164 articles over a 12-year period from six Botswana online newspapers representing a range of readership (The Voice, Mmegi Online, Weekendpost, Sunday Standard, Daily News, Botswana Guardian) were analyzed and compared for thematic patterns related to obesity information, characterization, valence, stigmatization, prevention, risk reduction, and individual and structural obligations. The study draws pedagogical implications from the findings for reconfiguring obesity education in professional development praxis.

Keywords: Health communication, obesity, risks, protective factors, awareness


Journal Identifiers

print ISSN: 2411-6939