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Unpack the Salt: an evaluation of the Victorian Salt Reduction Partnership's media advocacy activities to highlight the salt content of different foods.


ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND:Australians are consuming almost double the recommended maximum salt intake. The Victorian Salt Reduction Partnership was established to coordinate efforts to reduce salt intake in the state of Victoria. As part of an intervention strategy, media advocacy strategies were used to raise public awareness and stimulate industry and government action on salt reduction. This study aimed to evaluate the Victorian Salt Reduction Partnership's media advocacy activities by determining the extent to which activities contributed to the overall strategy aims and the effectiveness of the activities in gaining media and industry engagement. METHODS:A framework for evaluating media advocacy strategies used in complex public health interventions was used to guide this evaluation. Media advocacy activities were monitored and documented throughout the intervention period. A content analysis of media release press statements was performed. Indicators of media coverage (media items, cumulative audience reach, advertising space rate) and food industry engagement (number of meetings, number and type of follow up actions) were tracked. RESULTS:Six media releases were issued between March 2017 and November 2018 on different processed food categories including breads, cooking sauces, ready meals, dips and crackers, processed meats and Asian-style sauces. Three main themes were identified in the qualitative analysis of the press statements: general information on salt and health, salt levels in foods, and calls to action for consumers, industry and/or government. These themes were aligned with the overall intervention strategy. Media items (print and online news, radio and TV) generated by each release ranged from 36 to 274, and cumulative audience reach (opportunities to see) ranged from 2.3 to 7.5 million Australians per release. One to three food manufacturers were met with per media release. CONCLUSIONS:Disseminating sodium-monitoring data through media releases can be used as a tool to gain access to the media and reach consumers with salt reduction messages, and to engage food manufacturers in discussions about salt reduction. Characteristics of media advocacy activities, including alignment with the overall strategy, and external factors outside the of control of the program implementers, can influence media and industry engagement. When planning future nutrition interventions that include media advocacy activities, internal and external factors impacting outcomes, should be considered, documented and evaluated.

PROVIDER: S-EPMC7495894 | BioStudies |

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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