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Historically, newspapers were used to access information on what is happening worldwide, however, today the internet is more convenient. Globally, media serves as a communication tool to educate, enlighten and enrich the general public (Corporation for Public Broadcasting, 2018). Media outlets present information in different styles that enhance the understanding of the readers. Media platforms share information about various aspects, however, in this context, the focus will be based on how media presents information on health and illness in various settings.
In the essay, two media sources namely, the Harvard Medical School (Book), business insider as well as health e-news (News site) will be looked at. These media sources address three health issues namely, insomnia, obesity and lung disease. The health issues will be analyzed using sociological theories to understand how sociological factors affect them.
In this day and age, people no longer go to the library to get books, instead, they access them in the palm of their hands.
Health beat is an online library used mainly in the Harvard Medical School. However, people can subscribe to it, to receive different books that address one particular health issue a day. This can be a disadvantage to people who do not have access to smartphones or find it difficult to use digital devices, more especially elderly people (Lancaster University, 2018). In this source, insomnia is presented in an objective way, as evidence-based information accessed from medical journals has been used.
Medical terms are used, thus making it difficult for the readers to comprehend.
The target audience in the article is educated individuals, specifically medical students and professionals. The linguistic is formal, providing informative and logical advice. The style of writing creates awareness on the seriousness of insomnia to the audience.
A freelance report from Health e-news, South Africa illustrates how marketing through food advertisement encourages the consumption of unhealthy foods in children, resulting in obesity (Molelekwa, 2019). Obesity is presented in a subjective manner that shows the expression of opinions. The presentation illustrates a clear directive way, making it easier for the audience to understand and relate to the health issue. The article is written in simple English and images are used to attract the attention of the readers as well as inspire action that will help the people cope with the health challenge (Kavanagh, Marcellino, Blake, Smith, et al., 2019). The article is aimed at every human-being who is literate.
Brodwin (2019), informs the population of the United States on how vaping can affect the health outcome of an individual. The article aims to cover a wider audience, more especially young people aged 18- 34 years as they are more likely to vape and use e-cigarettes (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2019). The information is presented in a subjective manner to emphasise interaction and personal perspectives from the readers. Less concrete language is used to enhance the engagement between the reader as well as the literature. Such will help the audience to acquire and utilize the information shared on the negative effects of vaping and using e-cigarettes.
Insomnia is a common but neglected condition that has long term effects on the health of an individual (Bhaskar, Hemavathy & Prasad, 2016). Approximately one in four individuals develop insomnia each year (Insomnia Statistics, 2018). Studies conducted worldwide have shown that the prevalence of insomnia is approximately as high as 50-60% in a population, affecting older adults, females and people with medical and mental ill-health (Bhaskar, Hemavathy & Prasad, 2016). According to the Harvard Medical School (2019), nearly half of insomnia cases arise from psychological or emotional issues such as stress, depression and anxiety which are influenced by culture, society as well as the environment.
The article shows that society defines insomnia as the lack of sleep resulting from one having more than enough sleep from the previous night (Harvard Medical School, 2019). In contrast, insomnia is a sleeping disorder that makes it difficult for one to fall asleep, and it causes one to wake up too early with the difficulty of getting back to sleep (Mayo Clinic, 2016). It is the misinterpretation from media sources that confuse the people and provide unreliable content. In this context, the media bias the perception of the population on insomnia (Young, Norman & Humphreys, 2018). The article illustrated that stress is a common cause of insomnia (Harvard Medical School, 2019). Mayo Clinic (2016), support the assumption by illustrating that stress due to work, school, health, finances or family can keep one’s mind active at night, resulting in the difficulty to sleep.
In addition, stress causes hyperarousal, which affects the balance between sleep and wakefulness and thus the quality of sleep (National Sleep Foundation, 2011). However, such depends on the occurrence and disappearance of the stress as well as its cause.
Childhood obesity has increased dramatically worldwide. According to Rossouw, Grant, & Viljoen (2012), South Africa is experiencing a double burden of diseases such as undernutrition, overweight or obesity in children as well as adolescence. The major contributing factor to such is malnutrition. The article shows that the prevalence of obesity in children (2-14 years) in South Africa amounts to 11.5% in girls and 4.7% in boys (Molelekwa, 2019). Females are more prone to obesity than males, due to hormonal difference (Sahoo, Choudhury, Sofi, Kumar, et al., 2015). Both females and males do not produce enough estrogen that allows the distribution of fat in the body (Zore, Palafox, & Reue, 2018). Females as compared to males produce lower amounts of estrogen in pre-menopausal, while males produce high levels of both androgens as well as estrogen (Gurvich, Hoy, Thomas, & Kulkarni, 2018).
It is emphasized in the article that marketing is a powerful tool that promotes unhealthy food (Molelekwa, 2019). Television advertisements use cartoon characters in the marketing of foods and non-alcoholic beverages that are high in fat, sugar and salt (Molelekwa, 2019). According to Arcan, Bruening, & Story (2013), approximately 50% of all advertisements in children’s TV programs account for unhealthy food advertising. Similarly, as stated in the media source, from a total of 4916 advertisements shown on the free-to-air TV channels, 1030 (21%) were food advertisements (Molelekwa, 2019).
Exposure to unhealthy foods through TV marketing is linked to increased preferences for food laden in calories, fat as well as sugars (Arcan, Bruening, & Story, 2013). Such is risky for children as there is an increased possibility for forming life-long preferences that increase the risk for obesity (Wahlqvist, Krawetz, Rizzo, Dominguez-Bello, et al., 2015). As stated in Rossouw, Grant and Viljoen (2012), obese children are more likely to stay obese into adulthood, increasing the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and other disorders. It is important to regulate the marketing industry to promote healthy food marketing.
A study conducted in the US by Gentzke, Creamer, Cullen, Ambrose, et al., (2019) shows that the prevalence of vaping in the past 30 days have increased by 8.9% (National Youth Tobacco Survey, 2019). Vaping affects male more than females, nearly three fourths (72%) of cases are male (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2019). In addition, the South African Demographic and Health Survey (2016) reports that 2% of women and 3% of men age 15 and above use e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes and other vaping devices pose similar risks to the health of an individual as normal cigarettes. Both e-cigarettes and vaping devices contain nicotine which is addictive (Richter, 2018). The article reported symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, trouble breathing and stomach issues due to vaping (Brodwin, 2019). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2019), reported an outbreak of severe lung disease related to vaping, which has resulted in morbidity and mortality. The article emphasis that 215 cases of illnesses were reported across 25 states between June and August and two people were reported died (Brodwin, 2019). However, investigators do not know the cause of death. This can be due to under-reported cases because people insert various ingredients which are illegal such as cannabis and marijuana to vape (Brodwin, 2019).
The article elaborates that insomnia can leave people feeling anxious, leading to forgetfulness and lack of concentration (Harvard Medical School, 2019). People with insomnia cannot function to the best of their ability. As stated in the Insomnia Statistics (2018), insomnia is a major contributing factor to deaths caused by motor vehicle crashes. The functionalist perspective supports the health issue, Insomnia. People who suffer from insomnia cannot perform their societal roles as they are playing their sick role. Insomnia results in loss of productivity, which cost the economy about $63 billion a year in the US (Insomnia Statistics, 2018).
Insomnia becomes more common with age, meaning the older one gets, the greater the risk of being diagnosed with Insomnia (Mayo Clinic, 2016). In addition, Harvard Medical School (2019), emphasise that insomnia is common among the older population. There are biological changes caused by ageing. According to the biological theory, ageing is hormonally regulated by the endocrine affecting stress (Jin, 2010). It also affects sleeping patterns through the gonadal hormones cycles (Martinez & Ruiz, 2019). Thus, elderly people are prone to insomnia.
Television advertisements influence the preferences of children in regards to the type of foods they want to ingest (Bruce, Pruitt, Cherry, Smith, et al., 2016). The social cognitive theory explains that advertisements affect the thoughts and behaviour of individuals (Combs & Phelps, 2016). Thus, it is cited as the most theoretical framework in mass communication to illustrate the interaction between potential arousal, attitude, purchase intention as well as memory especially for advertisements (Combs & Phelps, 2016).
Food advertisements analyze psychosocial mechanisms through which an image of a burger and fries influences the child’s thought to act through asking the parents to get that type of food for them and perceive it as their favourite due to the pressure expressed on the television (Combs & Phelps, 2016). Human actions depend on symbols assigned to things as well as people. Symbolic interaction is mostly used in children’s commercials to enhance interaction (Winn, 2012). However, food advertisement uses such to their advantage by using creativity to grab the children’s attention to ingesting unhealthy foods more often. Such makes children vulnerable to overweight or obesity (Winn, 2012). In contrast, symbolic interaction in commercials assists children by broadening their view of communication (Redmond, 2015).
Modernity, the changes in social structure has occurred as a general consequence of industrialization. It has resulted in urbanization as well as globalization (Hu, & Chen, 2015). From normal cigarettes to e-cigarettes and vaping devices. Brodwin (2019), illustrates people perspectives on vaping and e-cigarettes. As stated in the media source, people view vapes as a method of quitting smoking, without knowing that it causes more harm than good (Brodwin, 2019). Vapes consists of toxic metals that are related to health problems in the lungs, liver, immune system and the heart (Richter, 2018). Brodwin (2019) also add that vaping delays the functioning and development of the brain, more especially in young people. Thus, leading to cancerous tumour development.
The Indian government has banned vaping as of Wednesday the 18th of September 2019 (News Room, 2019). The main reason behind such is that it poses a public health concern especially among the young population (News Room, 2019).
The capitalism approach can be used to explain its banning. According to the India government, the producers of vapes, as well as e-cigarettes, continue to kill the young population by introducing fancy objects that will encourage tobacco use (News Room, 2019). They do not care about the health outcome of vapes, all they want is money to sustain their lives at the account of other people.
In conclusion, the media sources presented all three health issues using different perspectives. Sociological analysis with the use of theories illustrated how health issues are addressed in society. Sociological analysis is important to assess and understand the justification on how health issues were presented as well as the presentation style.
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