Celebrity role models could help tackle childhood obesity, says Sheffield Hallam academic

14th December 2018

Positive celebrity role models should be used to educate new mums as part of a government drive to prevent childhood obesity, a Sheffield Hallam University lecturer has suggested A report by the All Party Parliamentary Group on a Fit and Healthy Childhood, which features recommendations from Sheffield Hallam's marketing lecturer, Dr Shalini Vohra, suggests that the government should create and launch a clinically-endorsed app and website for pregnant women and new mums providing information about how best to feed their babies.

The group found there was so much information about infant nutrition online mothers didn't know what to trust or follow. Dr Vohra, whose research explores the role of marketing in public health, said: -Educating and supporting mothers in the ante and post-natal periods is critical to preventing childhood obesity. This requires adequate time during appointments with midwives, enabling meaningful and individualised conversations. Pregnant women and new mums often turn to the internet for advice, however, they find it hard to know which websites and information can be trusted. "The government should create a clinically-endorsed app and accompanying website which provides evidence-based information that is easily accessible and available on the basis of need. It is also vital to promote positive messages that celebrate and praise women for the accomplishment of birthing and raising a new baby and government funded campaigns should aim to do this. Some of the key submissions in relation to the role of marketing to new mums included the development of a social marketing plan to support pre-conception healthcare; creation of a clinically-endorsed app and accompanying website for pregnant women providing easily accessible healthcare information and government-funded campaigns to celebrate women, partners and family members for the accomplishment of giving birth and raising a new baby. The report also suggests using positive celebrity role models to showcase realistic body images for mums, promoted by social media 'influencers' and vloggers. It also said there should be tighter restrictions on companies using role models and vloggers to disseminate marketing material to pregnant and post-natal women. The full report can be found here. Sheffield Hallam University is a national leader in creating innovative and real-world solutions for tackling today's health and wellbeing challenges. The University specialises in healthcare research and its practitioners, scientists, engineers and designers regularly collaborate to create innovative solutions to global health challenges. For press information: Polly Mosley in the Sheffield Hallam University press office on 0114 225 3224 or email p.mosley@shu.ac.uk

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