Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts


Media Studies


Daniel Robinson


Contemporary food television has moved away from an instructional and cooking-centered model, to an entertainment and eating-focused one. However, public health researchers have not considered these shows in the wake of rising obesity rates. This thesis is concerned with the kinds of messages food television conveys about food and eating and is guided by three research questions: How are food and eating represented on the shows? How is health addressed? How do these shows work to create and promote a more acceptable popular discourse around unhealthy eating habits? Through an analysis of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, You Gotta Eat Here! and Man vs. Food Nation, I argue that these food shows downplay or reject entirely health concerns and provide conflicting information about food and health. Finally, by framing these shows within current public health debates on obesity, I discuss possible ways to better inform viewers about the health merits of foods featured on these shows.