Academic journal article International Journal of Men's Health

Dietary Supplements Advertised in Muscle Enthusiast Magazines: A Content Analysis of Marketing Strategies

Academic journal article International Journal of Men's Health

Dietary Supplements Advertised in Muscle Enthusiast Magazines: A Content Analysis of Marketing Strategies

Article excerpt

Print media, including magazines with a focus on health and fitness, have proven a mechanism for dissemination of nutrition-related information (Cook, Russell, & Barker, 2014). Consumers of related products are seeking information about nutrition and their health more than ever, and relying on the media for this, perhaps even more so than on educators and health professionals (Fernández-Celemín & Jung, 2006). Consumers are often presented with conflicting health information, making it difficult to distinguish between reliable and false or inaccurate content (Fernández-Celemín & Jung, 2006). The United States Government Accountability Office has made the recommendation to increase oversight and consumer understanding. Its report specifically states that there have been limitations in educating consumers, and consumer understanding is insufficient (U.S. Government Accountability Office, 2009). The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) (formerly the American Dietetic Association) has posited that trained professionals including dietitians should play a primary role in educating consumers about safe practices regarding nutritional supplements (AND, 2009).

More than half of Americans take dietary supplements (DS) (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011), and research suggests that participants of power and strength sports in particular use supplements regularly (Maughan, King, & Lea, 2004). In 2004, it was estimated that over 2 billion dollars was spent on sports nutrition supplement products (Picciano, n.d.). These products are frequently advertised in muscle enthusiast magazines geared towards male readers. We identified one study to date (1992) published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) analyzing information on supplements in one year of bodybuilding magazines (Philen, Ortiz, Buerbach, & Falk, 1992). The authors concluded that ingredients were typically unusual or unidentifiable, and 22% of the time, no ingredients were listed at all (Philen et al., 1992). The implications, as outlined by Philen and colleagues, include developing a greater understanding of those who use such products as well as the potential effects of supplements when used heavily (Philen et al., 1992). In addition, Philen and colleagues suggest health professionals should 1) routinely ask patients about their use of such products, 2) consider ill effects of such use diagnostically, and 3) report adverse effects of supplement use (Philen et al., 1992). Over 20 years later, this topic is equally if not more important given these products' high rate of consumption, reports of adverse effects (Consumer Reports, 2010), and emergent research showing that supplements may be devoid of the very ingredients they are touting (O'Connor, 2015).

In an effort to further explore the marketing strategies for these products, the purpose of our study was to analyze selected advertisements in muscle enthusiast magazines to determine 1) the prevalence of advertisements for DS products, and 2) specific characteristics of these ads, including promotional language used, presence and size of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA) warning, presence of celebrity endorsement, ingredients highlighted, health claims, and reference to research studies (U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 1994).

METHODS

The sample included a total of 32 issues of the following 6 muscle enthusiast magazines: Muscle & Fitness, Flex, Muscular Development, MuscleMag, FitnessRx and Planet Muscle spanning the six March-August months of 2013 (of note, some issues spanned a twomonth period). Multiple urban and suburban bookstores and newsstands in the tri-state area were visited repeatedly to identify magazines for sale in this genre thereby generating this comprehensive sample. In addition, these magazines were chosen for their high collective total readership of over 1.3 million during this study's time frame (Alliance for Audited Media, 2014; Active Interest Media, 2014; Echo Media, 2015). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.