Obesity Stigma Fuelled by Online News Websites

by Thilaka Ravi on  May 26, 2011 at 8:05 AM Obesity News   - G J E 4
A new research on obesity has found that online news websites add to the social stigma of obesity.
 Obesity Stigma Fuelled by Online News Websites
Obesity Stigma Fuelled by Online News Websites

The study on obesity from Yale University has suggested that online news outlets stigmatise obese people by excessive use of their negative images in ill-fitting clothes or eating fast food, just to consolidate their stories about obesity.

The researchers looked at 429 news stories about obesity, along with their accompanying photos, published on five major news websites.

Of the photos depicting overweight or obese people, the study found, 72 percent portrayed them "in a negative, stigmatising manner".

There were six criteria used to determine whether a given image was negative or stigmatising, including being shown without a head (59 percent of overweight/obese people).

Being shown from the side or rear angle (40 percent), only showing the abdomen or lower body (52 percent), and being shown without clothes or bare midriff (12 percent).

Other criteria were poorly fitting clothes (6 percent), being shown eating or drinking (8 percent), and being engaged in a sedentary activity (5 percent).

While the researchers did not investigate whether photos accompanying news stories about thin people were treated the same way, another research by Benjamin Radford, deputy editor of the science magazine 'Skeptical Inquirer', found that approximately 80 percent of the photos of thin people should also be considered negative or stigmatising.

According to him, the images of thin people are used in the same degrading manner as those of obese individuals.

"Obese people are highly stigmatised in our society in important domains of living, including education, employment, and health care," Discovery News quoted the study as noting.

The study was published online in the Journal of Health Communication.

Source: ANI

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