Negative stereotypes of the Scottish diet: A qualitative analysis of deep-fried Mars bar references in the Scottish press

Speaker: Dr Christine Knight # Science, Technology and Innovation Studies, University of Edinburgh

21st Mar 2016

15:30 - 17:00

Staff Room, 6th floor, Crystal Macmillan Building (University of Edinburgh, George Square)

The Scottish diet is associated in the UK media and popular discourse with unhealthy deep-fried foods. In addition to the stereotype’s negative effects on perceptions of Scottish food, culture and people, there is some evidence that it has negative effects on food behaviour and public health. The most notorious deep-fried food associated with Scotland is the deep-fried Mars bar (DFMB), arguably invented in Stonehaven, near Aberdeen, and first reported in the press in 1995. This article reports findings from a thematic and discourse analysis of references to the DFMB in the two highest selling newspapers in Scotland between 2011 and 2014. Both newspapers clearly associated the DFMB with Scotland. Further, both newspapers portrayed the DFMB and the broader “deep-fried” Scottish diet stereotype ambivalently. However, the Daily Record actively criticised the DFMB stereotype much more often than did its rival the Scottish Sun. These findings suggest that the Scottish population encounters different messages in the press about food and nutrition from people elsewhere in the UK, and that these messages vary depending on choice of media in Scotland. Given the known negative effects of the stereotype, differences in Scottish media discourse should be considered a potential factor in persistent health inequalities affecting Scotland.

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