Diet Advice in Women's Magazines - from the forties to the noughties

Part of Sheffield Food Festival 2011

Diet advice 40s to 000s

By Dr Margo Barker,

Thursday 7 July, 6.00pm

Richard Roberts Auditorium, Richard Roberts Building, Brook Hill, S3 7HF




This talk will examine nutritional advice and consumer claims in food advertising and writing in two longstanding British women's magazines, Woman's Own and Woman & Home, over the last fifty years. In the war and post-war years nutrition claims were to the fore in both magazine articles and advertising; foods and supplements to boost energy, aid growth and protect health were widely advocated. These claims reflected contemporary scientific understanding of nutrition, and were in keeping with the war effort on the Home Front. At the same time there was much emphasis on dietary means to enhance sleep and strengthen nerves, whilst women were often encouraged to consume food for beauty ends.

Over the past five decades there has been a downturn in the quantity of adverts which carry a nutrition message. However, this has been matched by increasing articles giving diet and health advice. There has also been clear shifts in types of food advertised – a steady growth in numbers of adverts featuring convenience and fast food, an increase in nutritional supplement advertising, falling advertising for weight loss products after a peak in the 1960s, whilst there has been little movement in fruit and vegetable advertising. These trends will be discussed in the light of changes in food policy.

Dr Margo Barker is a lecturer in nutritional epidemiology at the Human Nutrition Unit at the University of Sheffield. Her research addresses the overarching question of why people eat what they do. She has carried out a portfolio of study into psychological and social influences on food choice.

More on the Sheffield Food Festival, 4-10 July 2011