Ms Maree Scully, Senior Research Officer, Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer, Cancer Council Victoria
Competing with big business: Effects of messages to promote alcohol and sugary drink control policy
Policies encouraging healthy behaviours are often strongly opposed by well-funded industry groups. As public support is crucial for policy change, public health advocates need to be equipped with strategies to offset the impact of anti-policy messages. The current study aimed to investigate the effectiveness of theory-based public health advocacy messages in generating support for alcohol/sugary drink policies and improving resistance to subsequent anti-policy messages typical of the alcohol/sugary drink industry. Six thousand Australian adults recruited from a national online panel were randomly assigned to one of four advocacy messages or a control arm. The four advocacy message conditions presented a standard pro-policy argument alone or combined with an inoculation message (forewarning and directly refuting anti-policy arguments from the opposition), a narrative message (a short, personal story about an individual's experience of the health issue), or a composite inoculation and narrative message. Around two weeks later, recontacted participants (n=3,285) were exposed to an industry anti-policy message. This presentation will discuss the findings from this study, including the potential benefits for advocates of using inoculation or narrative strategies when promoting health policy changes in real-world competitive messaging environments.
Ms Philippa Niven, Research & Evaluation Officer, Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer, Cancer Council Victoria
Add health stars to reduce kilojoules? Effects of health star labelling on the kilojoule content of adults' fast food meal selections
Fast food is usually energy dense and sold in large serving sizes and people substantially underestimate the energy content of these foods. In February 2012, New South Wales (NSW) Government enforced legislation requiring standard food outlets with 20 or more locations in NSW or 50 or more locations within Australia to display total energy (kilojoules or kJ) content of menu items on menu boards at point-of-sale. This study aimed to collect data on NSW consumers' propensity to make healthier food choices with the addition of health star rating (HSR) labelling on menu boards at quick service food outlets. A between-subjects experimental design was employed, whereby 1,007 NSW adults aged 18-49 were allocated to one of four menu labelling conditions: (i) no labelling; (ii) kJ labelling; (iii) HSR labelling; and (iv) kJ + HSR labelling. Using an online methodology, respondents were presented with their menu boards and instructed to select an evening meal as they would at a fast food restaurant. This presentation will discuss the findings from this study, including the implications for future policy development relating to nutritional disclosure.