OBJECTIVES: To conduct a content analysis of pre-Games local media coverage of the potential impact on health and the determinants of health in Newham, the site of the Olympic Park.
DESIGN: Local newspaper content analysis.
SETTING: Olympic park host site of the London Borough of Newham.
OUTCOME MEASURES: Media coverage of employment, physical activity and well-being.
RESULTS: Three hundred and 51 articles meeting the inclusion criteria were included in the analysis. The overwhelming majority of the articles took a positive perspective on the Olympic Games being hosted in Newham with less than 10% (32/351) addressing potential adverse effects. The frequency of articles reporting on both employment and well-being increased significantly over time (p=0.002 and p=0.006, respectively). A non-significant increasing trend was observed for physical activity (p=0.146). New employment opportunities and the promotion of physical activity in young people were the pathways most frequently reported in the local media. However, much less attention is devoted to understanding the uncertainties about how much of these new opportunities will directly improve the determinants of health in the Newham population.
CONCLUSIONS: Pre-Games reporting on the impact on health and the determinants of health increased over time in the London Borough of Newham, and is overwhelmingly positive. However, specific uncertainties around the true nature of its impact on local employment and physical activity were articulated. Further evaluation of the tangible impacts on population health, and the determinants of health and health inequalities from the London 2012 Olympics, is required.