Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A “Healthy” Communication

by Manuel Ayala

Bad (and comfortable) habits die hard: fast food for a fast lifestyle (“grab and go”, “skip breakfast…it´s late”), drive don´t walk (“it´s too hot outside!”), watch more TV (“stay tuned”, “don´t touch that remote”), smoke (“you´ll look glamorous”), get the big meal ("McDonald´s I´m lovin´it"), drink alcohol (“relax… take it easy..it´s Friday”)…

How many of these things have been created and promoted by the media? All of them! That´s a fact but, will it be like this forever? The last word is not in yet on that question.

There is an important and emerging area in communication studies known as Health Communication, and we at SUSI 2010, had the chance to know more thanks to a very interesting lecture by Professor Petya Eckler from the University of Iowa.

Health communication is defined as the study and use of communication strategies to inform and influence individuals or community decisions that enhance health.

I have seen that some of the typical research topics in this area are: the images of health care in the mass media culture (Are medical cases as exciting as they are represented for example, in Grey´s Anatomy? What are the most common clichés that appear in non prescription medicine advertising on media, like pain killers?); corporal images (the cult to the extreme skinny bodies in fashion magazines like Vogue), portrayals of obesity (are they represented always as an comic stereotype?), and many more.

Health and media literacy can help in a great way to try to develop rational and critical thinking skills in the audience… healthy mind, healthy body.

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