JUS Media? Programme

L-R Front: Prof. Julie Meeks (Co-PI), Dr. Gail Ferguson (PI), Dr. Barbara Fiese (Co-I). L-R Back: Regina Ahn (Grad RA), Dr. Rachel Powell (Consultant), Kenz Martin (Undergrad RA), Dr. Steve Tran (Data Manager), Dr. Michelle Nelson (Co-I), Tashaine Morrison (Project Manager), Brenda Koester (Co-I).

The J(amaican and) U(nited) S(tates) Media? Programme is a new transdisciplinary global health intervention (2017 podcast) designed to combat the impact of US cable/media on eating habits in Jamaica by teaching youth and parents to question the health messages embedded in food advertising.

HISTORY: The JUS Media? Programme is a food-focused media literacy intervention (see flyer) and was developed in response to the findings of Dr. Ferguson’s Culture, Health, and Family Life Study (CHFLS) with adolescents and parents in Kingston, Jamaica. This study indicated that adopting a part-American identity in Jamaica through a process called remote acculturation is linked to watching more US cable TV daily, which is then linked to eating more unhealthy foods (Ferguson et al., 2017, Child Development). Dr. Ferguson convened a team of experts in media and nutrition from the US (Dr. Nelson) and Jamaica (Prof. Meeks Gardner), who together did preliminary research to canvas the food and media landscapes in Kingston (See this 2-min video of how ubiquitous food advertising is in Jamaica). The team then adapted an empirically validated US food-focused media literacy intervention of Dr. Nelson to create the JUS Media? Programme for families in Jamaica.

EMPIRICAL FINDINGS: We piloted the JUS Media? Programme in Jamaica in Spring 2017 in an experimental efficacy study where students and mothers in Kingston received a presentation on national nutrition guidelines, learned that Americanization puts them at higher risk of unhealthy eating, and deconstructed food ads based on media literacy principles and created counter-ads to expose their pernicious messages (a skill called subvertising). See this 2-min video compilation of the subvertising contest winners — they gave written permission for their winning advertisements to be posted publicly.

Our efficacy study found promising preliminary results — families who received the JUS Media? Programme reported higher fruit consumption and media literacy than those who did not receive our Programme! See our presentation at the 2017 National Health Research Conference by the Jamaica Ministry Of Health for preliminary findings. We are currently preparing a manuscript for publication.

TESTIMONIALS: And families in Jamaica who participated in the JUS Media? Programme had a lot to say about their experience. Listen to this family’s story (they gave written permission to share publicly):


TRANSDISCIPLINARY GLOBAL TEAM: The JUS Media? Programme is headed by a transdisciplinary and global team of investigators having expertise in remote acculturation (Dr. Gail M. Ferguson, Principal Investigator, U of I, USA) and Caribbean nutrition (Prof. Julie Meeks, UWI, Jamaica), along with experts in media/advertising literacy (Dr. Michelle Nelson, U of I, USA), childhood obesity and family mealtimes (Dr. Barbara Fiese, U of I, USA), and in stakeholder partnerships for healthy families (Brenda Koester, U of I, USA). Consultants on the team include Dr. Rachel Powell from the CDC Foundation, and Dr. Hari Sundaram from the U of I, and the Project Manager (Tashaine Morrison, UWI, Jamaica) and Data Manager (Dr. Steve Tran, U of I, USA) also play key roles. Graduate student research assistants include Cagla Giray, Esra Sahin, and Ananya Shrestha (Human Development and Family Studies, U of I), Regina Ahn, Kat Tian, and Mia Wang (Advertising, U of I), and Candice Wray (Psychology, UWI, Jamaica). Several undergraduate students serve as research assistants on this project including McKenzie Martin and Bridget Regan, who are completing undergraduate honors research projects.

HEALTHY FAMILIES PARTNERSHIP: The JUS Media? Programme Team facilitated a series of 3 meetings to convene key stakeholders in the Kingston area of Jamaica to explore the possibility of partnership(s) to coordinate actions towards healthier families.  Each local stakeholder brings a unique lens and expertise. JUS Media? brings a food-focused media literacy lens. The first Healthy Families partnership meeting occurred on Nov 30, 2017 — click here to see the Executive Summary. The second Partnership meeting occurred on March 1, 2018 and the third (and final) on June 26, 2018. For questions please contact the Project Manager, Ms. Tashaine Morrison at tashainemorrison@gmail.com.

FUNDING: The preliminary research for development of the JUS Media? Programme intervention is funded by the Christopher Family Foundation, Family Resiliency Center, U of I. The randomized control feasibility study in Jamaica to evaluate the effectiveness of the JUS Media? Programme is funded by the NIH, Fogarty International Center.

Several projects are underway in the Culture and Family Life Lab and we are accepting applications for new research assistants. If you are interested in joining the Lab please email Dr. Ferguson at gmfergus@illinois.edu.

Culture and Family Life Lab | cultureandfamilylife@gmail.com