Objective: High rates of population obesity have resulted in the dissemination of mass media campaigns that focus on achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. The aim of the present study was to analyse advertising techniques used in such campaigns to identify common and differential approaches in three countries with similar cultures and rates of obesity (Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States).
Methods: An Internet search was conducted to identify healthy weight television advertisements aired in the three countries. Seventy-two advertisements were located and coded according to the advertising techniques employed.
Results: Despite the cultural similarity and comparable obesity rates of the three countries, there were few consistencies in advertising techniques employed. A main focus of the ads was diet, but disparate approaches were used to convey the message in each country.
Conclusions: The identified wide variation in advertising techniques may suggest that campaign managers would benefit from greater certainty about which advertising approaches are most effective in encouraging lifestyle behaviours associated with a healthy weight.
Implications for public health: A more robust evidence base would be useful to guide the development of healthy weight campaigns.