Study finds media unfairly stereotype obese people

Study finds media unfairly stereotype obese people

Fat People Obese“Short people got no reason to live,” sang Randy Newman. And if you listen to the mainstream media, which have dutifully carried the party line since Michelle Obama made the battle of the bulge a personal crusade in 2010, fat people have even less reason to live.

That the media have been unkind to the obese was the focus of investigation in a new study conducted by Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity. The bottom line, reported by Yale Daily News, is that obese members of the population believe the media have it in for them. “The videos and pictures accompanying the news about obesity are often negative and stereotypical,” said Rebecca Puhl, director of research. “I wanted to quantify this and see how common it is.”

Puhl analyzed 370 news videos on the websites of major news networks and discovered that obese people were portrayed negatively 65 percent of the time. The numbers were more heavily skewed in the case of obese children, who were depicted in an unflattering manner 77 percent of the time.

These negative images, Puhl maintains, affect the public’s perceptions of obese people. “[The videos] have a very unflattering emphasis on body parts like stomach or buttocks, or else they show them eating unhealthy food, exhibiting sedentary behavior and wearing ill-fitting clothes,” Puhl added.

But is the negative coverage at least an inducement to plump people to shed some pounds? Not according to Rudd Center Deputy Director Marline Schwartz, who said in an email to the News on Monday that Puhl’s research disproved the myth that stigma motivates people to lose weight.

“Her work lends scientific support to the position that is important for people to feel valued and not judged when they are making healthy choices,” she said.

Try telling that to the First Lady — if you can find her. Last night, you could have found her stuffing her face at We The Pizza on Capitol Hill, Twitchy reports. The occasion, ironically, was a relaunch of her ”Let’s Move” campaign in a highly publicized Google hangout earlier in the day.

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Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy has written for The Blaze, HotAir, NewsBusters, Weasel Zippers, Conservative Firing Line, RedCounty, and New York’s Daily News. He has one published novel, Hot Rain, (G. P. Putnam’s Sons), and has been a guest on Radio Vice Online with Jim Vicevich, The Alana Burke Show, Smart Life with Dr. Gina, and The George Espenlaub Show.


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