Sitting ducks face chronic disease: an analysis of newspaper coverage of sedentary behaviour as a health issue in Australia 2000-2012

Josephine Y. Chau, Catriona Bonfiglioli, Amy Zhong, Zeljko Pedisic, Michelle Daley, Bronwyn McGill, Adrian Bauman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Issue addressed: This study examines how sedentary behaviour (too much sitting) was covered as a health issue by Australian newspapers and how physical activity was framed within this newspaper coverage. Methods: Articles featuring sedentary behaviour published in Australian newspapers between 2000 and 2012 were analysed for content and framing. Main outcome measures were volume, number and content of newspaper articles; framing and types of sedentary behaviour; responsibility for the problem of and solutions to high levels of sedentary behaviour; and physical activity mentions and how it was framed within sedentary behaviour coverage. Results: Out of 48 articles, prolonged sitting was framed as bad for health (52%) and specifically as health compromising for office workers (25%). Adults who sat a lot were framed as 'easy targets' for ill health (21% of headlines led with 'sitting ducks' or 'sitting targets'). Prolonged sitting was framed as an issue of individual responsibility (>90%) with less mention of environmental and sociocultural contributors. Thirty-six of 48 articles mentioned physical activity; 39% stated that being physically active does not matter if a person sits for prolonged periods of time or that the benefits of physical activity are undone by too much sitting. Conclusions: News coverage should reflect the full socio-ecological model of sedentary behaviour and continually reinforce the independent and well-established benefits of health-enhancing physical activity alongside the need to limit prolonged sitting. So what? It is important that the entire 'move more, sit less, every day!' message is communicated by news media.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-143
Number of pages5
JournalHealth Promotion Journal of Australia
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • health communication
  • mass media
  • physical activity


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