The study investigated the influences of the media on the nutritional behavioral of the rural families. Statement of the problem , human beings, whether rural or urban dwellers are social beings and learn severally from observation rather than depending on instinct, therefore, almost all the aspect of human psychology and behaviour including nutrition are affected either positive or negative by several agents of socialization, prominent among which are family, school and the media. the mass media in particular, are powerful mechanism for diffusing messages of development idealism regarding the attractiveness of modern society and family life (Thornton, 2001). It is therefore against this backdrop that this study seeks to determine whether the media has any influence on the nutritional behaviour of the rural families in Ogbdibo LGA.four specific objective were raised in order to achieve the main objectives which include, determine different sources of information on food and nutrition in the study area among others. The study was conducted among rural families in Ogbadibo LGA of Benue State. The population of the study consist of all resident in Ogbadibo which is made of 390,988 people. Random sampling technique was used to select the sample size within Ogbadibo LGA. The questionnaire was administered in the manner that cut across the different locations in three council Ward of Ogbadibo LGA of Benue State. i.e  Olachagbaha Council Ward, Al-oono Ward 11 and Al-oono Ward 111 Council Ward.  Survey design was used in conducting the study in the study area. A sample size of 400 respondents within the age bracket of 18-45 years and above were selected using a random sampling technique. Data collected were analyzed using frequency, mean, and percentage.  Finding from the study showed that different types of local foods such as yam, cassava, maize, guinea-corn, ground-nut and mangoes are produced in Ogbadibo LGA of Benue State. It was also discovered from the study that the rural dwellers in Ogbadibo LGA consume more carbohydrates than any other types of food. For the different source of information used by the respondents data showed that TV was the most commonly possessed and used media. Print media was found to be less popular compared to electronic media. Major reasons for TV usage/ preference were effectiveness for information dissemination, better understanding and entertainment. It is, therefore, recommended that development agencies should take advantage of the people’s preferences to ensure optimum effect of various food and nutrition related extension programmes.



1.1 Background of the Study

Food is any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for the body. It is usually of plant or animal origin, and contains essential nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, or mineral. The substance is ingested by an organism and assimilated by the organism's cells to provide energy, maintain life, or stimulate growth (“food” Encyclopedia Britannica, 2015). It is fundamental to human survival, in more than just one way. First, food is basic for averting hunger and maintaining health for every human being.  Secondly, food satisfies our palate and makes us happy emotionally and socially content. Thirdly, food constitutes a form of bond for family members and also serves as a means of cultural expression. The food eaten by families and members of the general public should therefore be safe, palatable and affordable, and of the quality that can maintain mental, emotional, physiologic and physical health in the people eating such food irrespective of their age, sex, language and culture (Oniang, Mutuku & Malaba. 2003). Food is important to human life and the most important component of food is the nutrition.

Nutrition is therefore, the science of food, nutrients and other substances, their action, interaction and balance in relation to health and disease and the process by which the organism ingests, digests, absorbs and transports, utilizes and excretes food substances (Park, 2009). It focuses  on how  disease conditions and  problems can be prevented or lessened with a healthy diet, as well as identify how  certain disease  conditions or problems may be caused  by dietary factors such as poor diet (malnutrition), food allergies, metabolic diseases, etc; several of these factors of which are influenced by the habits people develop by their  constant exposure to various aspects of the media such as  watching television, listening to the radio, reading newspapers and magazines, and most  recently, attending public shows where certain products such as indomie, soft drinks, snacks and the likes collectively known as fast foods are advertised and marketed by thin and beautiful  models whom the viewers seek to emulate  According to Ikorok, Eka, Ogunjimi and Udoh (2012), nutritional behavior refers to food consumption habit, choice or selection or the adopted pattern of eating by different groups of people in the community. It also refers to the selection and consumption of food and beverages (Sobal, Bisogni, Devine, & Jastran, 2006). It considers what, how, when, where, and with whom people eat. This plays an important role in symbolic, economic and social aspects of life by expressing people’s preferences, identities and cultural meanings. It also creates consumer demand, determines which food nutrients and other substances enter the body as well as influence health, morbidity and mortality (Sobal, Bisogni, Devine, & Jastran, 2006). These food related decisions made by individuals and families are influenced by a complex array of factors and processes. These include availability, the economy and prices, the media, cultural and social habits, physiological attributes such as age and pregnancy, psychological attributes, marketing methods and ethical concerns, nutritional knowledge as well as wider societal trends among others (Oniang, Mutuku & Malaba, 2003).

Food consumption pattern vary considerably between urban and rural areas (Dapi, Nouedoui, Janlert & Haglin, 2005). Diets of the African population tend to differ between rural and urban dwellers, a study carried out by Steyn, Burger, Monyeki, Alberts and Nthangen, (2001), showed   that rural dwellers diets are low in fat and sugar but high in carbohydrates and fibre while their urban counterparts show high fat and low fibre and carbohydrate intake which is typical of a Western diet (Bourne, Lambert & Steyn, 2002). Epidemiological data from developing and developed countries concluded that with the westernization of the diet, many chronic diseases would emerge, first as obesity a major risk factor for non-communicable diseases including type II diabetes, stroke, hypertension and certain types of cancers (World Health Organization, 2000),  followed by diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The increase in these diseases has been associated with increased urbanization and lifestyle changes (Lungiswa, 2007). As a result of these changes, many people replace healthy foods with fast foods which mainly consist of saturated and trans-fats with low content of massive portion sizes and fibres. Thus dietary changes from traditional high fibre diets towards foreign fast food diet have contributed to the increase of the incidence of diet related non communicable diseases. Rapid urbanization is accompanied by unhealthy dietary practices and sedentary lifestyles which Yadav and Krishnan, (2008), attributes to the fast change from rural to urban lifestyle, to which the media can be said to be a key factor.

The influence of the media on humanity in all ramifications can never be overemphasized. Media technologies are becoming an important aspect of today’s society. Each and every day, people in both rural and urban areas interact with media of many different forms. Media is defined as channels of communication through which news, entertainment, education, data, or promotional messages are disseminated (Online Business Dictionary). 

The mass media is a diversified collection of media technologies that reach a large audience via mass communication. The technologies through which this communication takes place include a variety of outlets such as the broadcast media (film, radio, recorded music, or television); digital media (internet i.e. email, social media sites, websites and mobile mass communication); outdoor media (Augmented Reality (AR) advertising, billboards, placards or kiosks placed inside of buses, commercial buildings, sports stadiums etc); print media (books, comics, magazines, newspapers or pamphlets). It is possible to assume that media is made up of completely unbiased information and that the media companies do not impose their own control upon the information being supplied to media users. However, since many people use media very frequently, it is glaring that it has effect on people. According to the text book Media Now,­ “media effects are changes in knowledge, attitude, or behavior that result from exposure to the mass media”. This leaves one with many unanswered questions about media and its influences. Media influence is the actual force exerted by a media message, resulting in either a change or reinforcement in audience or individual beliefs. Media effects are measurable effects that result from media influence, or a media message (Perse, 2001).

These effects can be positive or negative, abrupt or gradual, short or long lasting.  Positive media messages are helping to improve public understanding of major social and medical consequences of issues affecting the public such as body weight, diet and lack of exercise, high cholesterol, and hypertension to highlight only but a few. Increased public awareness and understanding through media is leading us to positive behavioral changes. Media psychology applied to major social issues can be a force for good. In addition, the growth of new Internet applications in commercial areas such as online buying and banking are positively contributing to the world's economy at an astonishing rate (Luskin, 2012). The three main negative behavioral effects that are connected to media are violence, prejudice, and perverse sexual behavior (Straubhaar & LaRose, 2000). Several other effects of the media on human life, especially among the rural people remain unraveled, hence the purpose of this study.



1.2       Statement of Problem

Human beings, (whether rural or urban dwellers) are social beings and learn severally from observation rather than depending on instinct. Therefore, almost all aspects of human psychology and behavior, including nutrition are affected either positively or negatively by several agents of socialization, prominent among which are family and the media. The dramatic influence of the rapidly growing media- television, radio, the internet, commercial motion pictures, printed matter and even advertisements in magazines, on television etc; continue to surprise everyone. The mass media in particular, are a powerful mechanism for diffusing messages of development idealism regarding the attractiveness of modern society and family life (Thornton, 2001). These messages fill the human mind with fantasies and images that can powerfully affect his beliefs, feelings, tastes, values, preferences and eventually his behavior, thereby raising his aspirations and creating in him an increased sense of deprivation and a drive to change his lifestyle in order to catch up with the trend. So also in the rural areas, people are dependent on the media, for example, the radio to collect information and some among them tend to follow it, which shows the changes in their behavior. In the modern context, the advertisement given by the media has influenced people in a larger number. It is therefore, against this backdrop that this study seeks to determine whether the media has any influence on the nutritional behavior of families in Ogbadibo Local Government Area.

1.3       Objectives of the Study

The main objective of this study is to accesses the influence of media on the nutritional behavior of the rural families in Ogbadibo  LGA of Benue state. The specific objectives are to:

  1.  Determine different sources of information on food and nutrition.
  2.  Identify common food locally prepared and consumed by the rural families.
  3.  Identify various food programmes on the media.
  4.  Establish whether these programmes influence their nutritional behavior.

1.4       Research Questions

        i.            What are the different sources of information on food and nutrition used in Ogbadibo LGA of Benue State?

      ii.            What are the common foods locally prepared and consumed by the rural families in Ogbadibo?

    iii.            What are the food programmes on the media?

    iv.            How do these programmes influence rural families nutritional behavior?

1.5              Significance of the Study

            The research work will be relevant to the following group of readers:

1.To the Researchers:: The information generated from this work will therefore fill this gap by providing baseline data which would serve as reference material for others who might intend to carry out further studies in this area.

  1. 2.       To the Government: This research work will assist government in knowing the nutritional status of those they governs especially the rural dwellers and how to plan for improvement.
  2. 3.      To the Hospitals: The research will serve as a guide to hospitals who will use it to be counseling rural household dwellers on what is good for them.
  3. 4.       To the Society: This study will also enlighten the society especially those in the rural  area on the benefits of consuming certain type of food, so that their daily consumption can be improved and their micronutrient status will also be better.


1.7       Scope of the Study

 The study will concentrate on assessing the influence of the media on the nutritional    behaviour of the rural families in Ogbadibo Local Government Area.


1.8       Definition of Terms

  1. Rural Households: Simply refers to a group of people who resides in rural areas   a village where activities such as farming are their means of survival.
  2. Food: Is substance consumed to provide nutritional support for the body, which is usually of plant or animal origin and contain essential nutrients.
  3. Nutritional behavior: Is considering what, how, when, where and with whom people eat.
  4. Media: Is simply defined as a mean of communication. Radio, newspapers, and television are all examples of media.