What to Eat in the Land of Cheese and Chocolate: A Content Analysis of Swiss Print Media Messages on a Healthy Diet


  • Peter J. Schulz Universistà della Svizzera Italiana
  • Uwe Hartung Universistà della Svizzera Italiana




diet, media coverage, newspapers, exercise, overweight, Switzerland


This paper describes a specific coding scheme for measuring health-related media content on the level of single assertions and in relative complexity. The basic idea is to code messages into an if-part (nutrition, physical activity, body weight) and a then-part (weight and health). Detailed codeplans can then be used to determine the specific nature of the if- and then-parts of an assertion. An exemplary analysis of Swiss-German newspaper and magazine messages between March 1, 2003 and June 30, 2005 provides evidence of recommendations that are more or less in line with official suggestions for a healthy diet: Newspapers and magazines tell their readers to eat vegetables, fruit, grain and cereal products, dairy products, and to care about vitamin and minerals intake. They also advise to stay away from tobacco, alcohol, fast food, sugar, and animal fat. Results are interpreted as evidence for the existence of a rather good source for diet information in print media, which is, however, very likely to be counteracted by other media content.

Author Biographies

Peter J. Schulz, Universistà della Svizzera Italiana

Peter J. Schulz is Professor for Communication Theories and Health Communication at University of Lugano (CH). He currently holds several project grants from the Swiss National Science Foundation, among them one for a doctoral school for Communication & Health, and other funding bodies (including EU) in the area of health communication. His recent research and publications have focused on consumer health literacy and empowerment, argumentation in health communications, and the epidemiology of prescription drug misuse. Together with Paul Cobley he is editor of the Handbook of Communication Sciences (22 volumes), published by De Gruyter Mouton.

Uwe Hartung, Universistà della Svizzera Italiana

Uwe Hartung received his Ph.D. from Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany. He was trained in mass communication and political communication, and has been a senior researcher at the Institute of Communication and Health of the Università della Svizzera italiana, Lugano, working in areas such as media coverage of and public opinion to health-related issues. He serves as Assistant Editor of the Handbook of Communication Sciences (De Gruyter Mouton).



How to Cite

Schulz, P. J., & Hartung, U. (2011). What to Eat in the Land of Cheese and Chocolate: A Content Analysis of Swiss Print Media Messages on a Healthy Diet. Communication and Medicine, 8(1), 99–110. https://doi.org/10.1558/cam.v8i1.99