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Mastering obesity: MasterChef Australia and the resistance to public health nutrition


Phillipov, M, Mastering obesity: MasterChef Australia and the resistance to public health nutrition, Media Culture and Society, 35, (4) pp. 506-515. ISSN 0163-4437 (2013) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2013 The Author(s)

DOI: doi:10.1177/0163443712474615


At the same time as overweight and obesity have come to dominate population health priorities in most western countries, food programming takes up more time on western television screens than ever before. This has resulted both in increased televisual representations of so-called ‘unhealthy’ foods (such as butter, cream and fatty red meats), and in greater public health scrutiny of the preparation and consumption of such foods. This article explores this paradox via a case study of MasterChef Australia, the most successful iteration of the popular MasterChef franchise. At a time when the ‘obesity epidemic’ has been a particular focus of Australian public health promotion, MasterChef Australia revels in the apparently ‘excessive’ use of saturated fats, especially butter, a food routinely declared by Australian health advocacy bodies as one to be avoided. This article argues that MasterChef Australia offers an alternative to puritanical nutrition discourses – not, on the whole, by explicitly contesting them, but by presenting food in ways that such discourses are largely irrelevant. The public health concerns generated by this use of butter on MasterChef Australia offer important insight into current debates about food and health, and, in particular, into the limitations of current public health communication strategies.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:butter, cooking, MasterChef Australia, public health, saturated fats, television
Research Division:Language, Communication and Culture
Research Group:Communication and media studies
Research Field:Media studies
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Communication
Objective Field:The media
UTAS Author:Phillipov, M (Dr Michelle Phillipov)
ID Code:81579
Year Published:2013
Web of Science® Times Cited:10
Deposited By:School of Social Sciences
Deposited On:2012-12-14
Last Modified:2018-02-17

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