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Media literacy plays a role in health and wellbeing

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In today’s climate of uncertainty about the truth of news in general, information about “good” health sources can play an important role in our personal wellbeing. The variety of media makes this a challenge, so knowing about media literacy can greatly help us make more informed decisions.

So why emphasize the importance of understanding the media in this fast-paced, increasingly technological world we live in – especially when it comes to health and wellness? The importance of media messages in the broadest sense with both implicit and explicit content should not be underestimated in today’s society.

“To be educated in today’s society means to be active, critical and creative users of not only the printed and spoken language, but also the visual language of film and television, commercial and political advertising, photography and more … the stuff of contemporary life. “A quote that I particularly like sums it up well:

“We drown in information, but hunger for knowledge.”
-John Naisbit, author / futurist

Media literacy for obesity prevention

Florida now has the 35th highest adult obesity rate, according to The State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America, published in September 2016. Florida’s adult obesity rate is currently 26.8 percent, down from 18.4 percent in 2000 and 11.4 percent in 1990. More specific health data related to Florida can be found at http://stateofobesity.org / states / fl /

“Obesity remains one of the most significant epidemics our country has faced, contributing to millions of preventable diseases and billions of dollars in preventable healthcare costs,” said Richard Hamburg, Interim President and CEO of Trust for America’s Health.

A proactive approach to health promotion
An important field of action is the focus on prevention and a proactive approach that begins at an early stage with an orientation towards education and media literacy. But what exactly is media literacy and how can you improve media literacy?

“Media literacy” can be defined as the ability to critically consume (and shape) media. The media literate is better able to decipher the complex messages they receive from television, radio, newspapers, magazines, books, billboards and signs, packaging and marketing materials, video games, and the Internet.

Media literacy can help one understand not only the superficial content of media messages, but also the deeper and often more important meanings beneath the surface. A good summary description with additional introductory information on media literacy can be found at:
http://www.medialiteracy.net/pdfs/intro_ml.pdf

Role of educational standards
Teaching our children media literacy early on could be achieved through the application of educational standards that focus more on knowledge processing rather than just knowledge acquisition. This is of increasing importance in today’s information age. Teaching skills, not just content, enables one to:
• Know how to access the right information when needed (especially with the amount of health and related information available to consumers)
• Ability to analyze and evaluate what is found
• Ability to formulate questions to clarify your search
• Ability to summarize and integrate your conclusions
• Ability to convey it clearly to someone else.
Employing a strategy that combines media literacy education with standards-based education has the potential to make us smarter consumers, reduce healthcare costs, and ultimately lead to a healthier America.

To be good psychologically as an adult in the 21st.
For a more in-depth discussion of media literacy, please consult the following resources:
National Association for Media Literacy Education: http://namle.net/
Center for media literacy: http://www.amlaino.org/

Mark Mahoney, Ph.D., has been a registered nutritionist for more than 30 years. He can be reached at marqos69@hotmail.com.

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