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MKT6016 - Social Marketing Assignment

PROJECT: Social Marketing Campaign towards an active life to reduce obesity

Introduction

Health is an extremely important aspect of good living. Good health ensures longer and better life which is important for a nation as well as an economy. Change in lifestyle has led to change in day to day behaviour where in children and adults alike spend a lot of their time with technology which has made their lives inactive. Spending time in front of a computer for work, entertainment, shopping and even socializing is extremely common.

This has led to individuals spending more time sitting in one place. Lack of movement or insufficient movement and activity is not good for the human body. It leads to several health issues and obesity is one of them. Obesity by itself is not just an illness, but also a cause for several other illnesses including blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes and even cancer. Obesity levels are increasing at an alarming rate and it has become important for the society to run awareness campaigns against inactive and sedentary lifestyle which is an important contributing factor causing obesity (Abroms LC, Maibach EW, 2008).

One of the most rapid and effective ways of implementing the awareness program with maximum reach is the usage of social media. Social media marketing is a boon of technology revolution and social media which enables us spread information and hold real time discussions. It also enables us to share experiences and understanding of life and health. Social media awareness campaign can help create awareness about the importance of healthy eating and an active lifestyle. It can help create health consciousness and weight consciousness which can help reduce the levels of obesity effectively (Abroms LC, Maibach EW, 2008).

Analysis of health behaviours and obesity

The present lifestyle has led to 2 important behaviours which can be considered as the contributors to obesity – inactive lifestyle and junk food eating habits (Gordon R, McDermott L, Stead M, Angus K, 2006). These behaviours are dangerous and harmful to the health of an individual in the long run and can cause obesity in the short run itself. Inactive lifestyle is a behaviour that has significantly increased due to technology becoming an important part of our lives (Christakis NA, Fowler JH, 2007). It does provide a lot of convenience as we can obtain goods and services at our doorsteps. But this does reduce our physical work which may be in the form of walking, climbing stairs or even standing in queues to a great extent. This has resulted in health issues in the form of obesity and poor health (Gordon R, McDermott L, Stead M, Angus K, 2006).

Another important behavior is eating habits. Convenience and easy availability of junk food has made us addicted to it. It has resulted in low levels of nutrition and higher levels of calories. This directly contributes to obesity. Moreover the combination of an inactive lifestyle and junk food eating habits results in intense health issues and excessive obesity as the calories consumed are extremely high and the number of calories spent is very low (Abroms LC, Maibach EW, 2008).

In this way the health behaviors of people in today’s times indicate that they are not living a very healthy lifestyle. It has become important for them to increase their physical activity by joining a gym or a sport. It has become important for them to look at entertainment in playing a sport together with friends and family which would help increase physical activity and lead to better life (Christakis NA, Fowler JH, 2007). Home food and nutritious food choices at restaurants need to be slowly bought back to our lives through awareness and consciousness about what we eat. Social media awareness campaign about healthy living to combat obesity can help achieve this behavioral change to a great extent. In this way it can help people be health conscious and make right choices with regard to food and lifestyle (Gordon R, McDermott L, Stead M, Angus K, 2006). Awareness does play an important role in motivating even those people who already know that active lifestyle and nutritious food habits can help combat obesity as they would be determined to implement them and practice them religiously (Abroms LC, Maibach EW, 2008).

Case study based analysis

The campaign to end obesity, popularly known as the CEO campaign was a social media campaign carried out at www.obsitycampaign.org, with 1 billion dollars dedicated to fight against obesity, was one of the larger social marketing campaigns against obesity through a website and a blog which has proven to be extremely successful. The CEO campaign began as an attempt to reduce health care costs and make health care affordable. It was discovered that every 2 in three adults and 1 in 2 children suffered from obesity and lot of money was spent in health care to combat obesity (NHS, 2010). So a social media awareness campaign was started and its success resulted in the blog being aligned to a website which is still active and several thousands of people are still benefitting out of this campaign (Gordon R, McDermott L, Stead M, Angus K, 2006).

It was the level of information that the blog gave and how it motivated the people to exercise as well as eat healthy helped the campaign become a success. Small easy tips on how food choices can help them strategically plan weight loss became a popular rage and method that was adopted by several other commercial health care and weight loss programs all over America (Gordon R, McDermott L, Stead M, Angus K, 2006). This campaign has truly shown us the power of social media and the impact it can have on the lives of people around the world, without letting the geographical boundaries and distance becoming a barrier or obstacle in the objectives of awareness programs like CEO (Abroms LC, Maibach EW, 2008).

Current inteventions - Use of Social Marketing to promote healthier behaviours

At present social media is widely beign used to promote healthier behaviours with lot of information being spread around. This definitely is instrumental in ensuring better inforamtion spread but it is not very helpful in motivatign people to implement it. It is improtant that the principles used in commerical marketing be applied even to soail marketing where in action and rewards or satisfaction is deeply correlated (Gordon R, McDermott L, Stead M, Angus K, 2006). Inspiring people to partiicpate in sports and events can help brign them to action and then help them make it a habit. In this way it is possible to create healthy life habits and behavior through the usage of social media awareness camapigns as an internvetion (Gordon R, McDermott L, Stead M, Angus K, 2006). It is important to consider the extent of this impact as high because social media is gaining populairty and increasing access to internet technologies has made social media all the more impactful. It can easily influence people’s way of thinking and life choices as well (Abroms LC, Maibach EW, 2008).

Critical Evaluation of Current Interventions

Current interventions including social media are extremely effective. Several of these initiatives around the world are supported by government organizations as well as charitabel institutions and health care institutions. This does add a lot of value and seriousness to these campaigns. In order to ahcieve the objective of altering health behaviour causing obesity, campaigns have been taken up by the governments of different nations where in the campaigns are focused on developing awareness on the long term health consequences of overweight, making individuals understand that their own family can be facing this issue along with being able to take the responsibility to reduce the risk through the adoption of family behaviours that are healthier. These interventions can help achieve better effectiveness in reduction in obesity levels in the society (Abroms LC, Maibach EW, 2008).

Current inteventions are focused on understanding individuals mind set and choices based on different factors including convenience, cost and preferences. As junk food is easier to obtain, cheaper and also tastier, it is quite often opted for without cosndiering the number of calories and amount of weight gain that such food can lead to. In order to reverse this effect or habit of prefering junk food over healthy food requires socail intervention through awareness. This can he achieved by using social media to its fullest capacity. It can help build better levels of growth in health consciousness as families change their way of living and adopt a healtheir and active lifestyle instead of a sedentary one.

Targeted and universal messages are widely used in social campaigns to impact the way in which consumers perceive. This helps build a better level of understanding of how they make their choices and ensuring that they are aware of the right choices which can help them combat obesity helps empower them to take better decisions. In this way the present interventions are quite effective and also helpful in ensuring that the levels of awareness are significnatly increased. Based on the large scale of obesity, the interventions of social marketing, social marketers prefer social media as it is cost effective, quick and helps track results effectively. In this way social media interventions are extremely useful (Abroms LC, Maibach EW, 2008).

Outcomes of inteventions

The main outcomes of these interventions have been a successful increase in the awareness about helathy living among several groups of people and families. This has helped in actual adoption of active lifestyle through sports, event participaiton and exercise as well as healthy eating options. Present day consumers demand healthier food options at restaurants in the form of salads and soups as well as healthier substitutes used in the same recipies. This helps create better control over obesity. Though the problem of obesity has not been eradicated as it depends on individual life choices, interventions through social media has helped ensure that there be better empowerment among the consumers about the life decisions that they make.

Social interventions to spread awareness about obesity and health issues have been successful to a great extent as they have helped achieve better understnading about avoiding obesity. Several of the technqiues explained in these awareness programmes have been widely used and it has helped ensure improvement in the lifestyle of people. Activeness and physical work is now accepted as an important part of life and people even in corporate companies and other fields try and focus on improving their health levels by taking up to living a healtheir life (Backholer K, Walls H, Magliano D, Peeters, 2010). This includes focus on creation of better life choices in terms of food choices as well as using technology. Parents now do encourage their children to go out and play rather than spend time in front of the television or computers. Families play sports together on holidays and increase their physical activities to a great extent. In this way the social campaigns are impacting the lives of the people in a positive way. Moreover the reach of the social media is widespread and it helps spread health messages to people across the globe.

Blogging and sharing of experiences has been extremely successful. People try diets and other ways to combat obesity and post their problems or success stories on blogs and this has helped motivate several other people to try the same techniques. In this way the GE diet, the fruit diet, yoga, aerobics and several other means of weight loss has become a rage among people as this information is easily accessible to them. Moreover seeing that other people have beenfitted from these further motivates people to try them and eventually end up living a healthier life (Backholer K, Walls H, Magliano D, Peeters, 2010).

In another study, an educational campaign called Fighting Fit, Fighting Fat was evaluated. This campaign was run by BBC and was targeted to adults. The evaluation of this campaign revealed recall of messages and high awareness among the people based on what they read on social media. It helped them relate to the images that were posted on the internet and also helped recall the methods as well as weight loss tips that were published on the internet. In this way the social media does play an extremely important role in ensuring that there is effective spread of awareness as well as motivation among the different groups of people across the world. In this way it has helped build a stronger level of social change and betterment program with higher impact (Backholer K, Walls H, Magliano D, Peeters, 2010).

Proposed changes in Intervention

Social marketing campaigns in the health domains need to be approved by health care specialists. There is lot of information on the internet out of which some of it is netiher credible nor verified. When people try or experiment wrong kinds of diets or exercises, it could be harmful to them rather than being useful. In such circusmtances, it is important that health care related information presented on the internet be approved by health care personnels or at least carry a disclaimer stating that please refer to a health speicalist for accurate advice as what works for one might not work for all. It is extremely important that the credibility of the information on the internet be verified by its propogators (French SA, Fulkerson JA, Story M, 2007).

The focus should shift towards the emphasis on the benefits of public health advantages of the diets which are healthy and have a low amount of energy dense and processed food along with the higher amount of intake of vegetables and fruits among all health groups. The focus needs to shift from weight to health as weight is just an indicator. Even if weight is under control healthy living is important (Evans WD:, 2006). These form of changes need to emphasize on the advantages related to the physical activity and healthy diet instead of obesity. It becomes extremely important to focus on building better health for everyone than focus on just obesity as a single health factor (Backholer K, Walls H, Magliano D, Peeters, 2010).

Moreover, the healthy options should be made more desirable, available and accessible as compared to the alternatives that are unhealthy and this requires effective creativity in food choices and food preparation at homes as well as commercial eating joints. This helps build a better level of effectiveness in life style changes and forming healthier choices as well (Department of Health, 2008).

The proposed technique of social marketing will emphasize on the strategy that has been outlined by Friedent et al (2010) which stated that the adjustments on food pricing in the form of subsidies on vegetables and fruits and the application of taxed to the food that are poor in nutrients and energy densed (Backholer K, Walls H, Magliano D, Peeters, 2010). It also includes the increase in the exposure towards the healthy food through restriction and zoning of the display of foods in various locations like supermarkets and the improvement in the healthy food’s image through the restriction on the advertising and presentation of content of calories in the meals of restaurants (Frieden et al, 2010). Ensuring awareness of these aspects of food choices among consumers will help empower them t make the right choices. It will also help them know what they are buying and the impact that the food has on their bodies (Chichester, 2010).

Theoretical Underpinning of Intervention 

The proposed intervention is supported by the determinants of social and health ecological models which reveal that it is important that the interventions be formed based on multiple dimensions of health including food choices and physical activity (Department of Health, 2009). In this way it is possible to achieve better health improvement. The theories of social marketing explain that understanding the consumer or subject’s thought process and decision making or choice making process can help craft the social media campaign as well as form better effectiveness in the spread of the campaign (Backholer K, Walls H, Magliano D, Peeters, 2010).

Conclusion

To conclude, helath is extremley important. It is essential that individuals in the society and socail groups help each other to improve their levels of health by focusing on building health groups as well as helping each other grow through awareness and information (Hammond RA, 2010). Social media helps people share their experiences and spread awareness about how obesity can be avoided (Chichester, 2010). This helps build better levels of motivation among all the people and this can indeed help in actual reduction of obesity levels in the society (Hastings G., 2006). The rate of obesity has been increasing with time due to which the efforts of public health organizations have also been increased. But if the public health organizations focus on using social media through credible sources and website as well as blogs and approval from health care professionals, it is possible to develop stronger levels of reduction in obesity issues and other health issues in the society (Backholer K, Walls H, Magliano D, Peeters, 2010). These strategies of social marketing are given top priority in terms of improving health and different social media campaigns conducted all around the world have succeeded in achieving this. The proposed intervention is to spread awareness to alter health behaviour and create motivation through blogs and sharing of real life experiences. In this way the social campaign can help improve health levels across the world with effectiveness and efficiency (Abroms LC, Maibach EW, 2008).

REFERENCES

Abroms LC, Maibach EW: The effectiveness of mass communication to change public Behavior. Annu Rev Public Health 2008, 29:219.

Backholer K, Walls H, Magliano D, Peeters A: Setting population targets for measuring successful obesity prevention. Am J Public Health 2010, 100:2033–7.

Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell; 2010. p. 243–52. 2009.

Christakis NA, Fowler JH. (2007) The spread of obesity in a large social network over 32 years. N Engl J Med 357: 370–379.

Department of Health: Change4Life marketing strategy. London: Crown Copyright; 2009.

Department of Health: Healthy weight, healthy lives: A cross-government strategy for England. London: Crown copyright; 2008.

Evans WD: How social marketing works in health care. BMJ 2006,  332:1207–1210.

French SA, Fulkerson JA, Story M. Increasing weight-bearing physical activity and calcium intake for bone mass growth in children and adolescents: a review of intervention trials. Prev Med. 2000;31: 722–31

Gordon R, McDermott L, Stead M, Angus K: The effectiveness of social marketing interventions for health improvement: What's the evidence? Public Health 2006, 120:1133–1139.

Hammond RA. (2010) Social influence and obesity. Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes 17: 467–471.

Hastings G. (2006) Ten promises to Terry: towards a social marketing manifesto. Soc Mar Q. 2006;12:59–62.

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