Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Framed: The Language of Media Articles on Obesity

If you haven't yet read this article analyzing the way most media articles portray obesity and the obesity epidemic, run right over and read it NOW.  Yes, it's that interesting.  Go, read.

It's called, "Morality and Health: News Media Constructions of Overweight and Eating Disorders,"  by Saguy and Gruys.  In it, they compare how news media articles from 1995-2005 frame discussions of obesity vs. discussions of eating disorders.

Here are some quotes from the article:
In the contemporary United States, thinness is associated with high social status and taken as evidence of moral virtue. In contrast, fatness is linked to low status and seen as a sign of sloth and gluttony. Drawing on an original data set of news reports, we examine how such social and moral meanings of body size inform news reporting on eating disorders and overweight.  
We find that the news media in our sample typically discuss how a host of complex factors beyond individual control contribute to anorexia and bulimia. In that anorexics and bulimics are typically portrayed as young white women or girls, this reinforces cultural images of young white female victims.  
In contrast, the media predominantly attribute overweight to bad individual choices and tend to treat binge eating disorder as ordinary and blameworthy overeating. In that the poor and minorities are more likely to be heavy, such reporting reinforces social stereotypes of fat people, ethnic minorities, and the poor as out of control and lazy.
Fascinating stuff. Discusses the moral framework the media places around obesity, and how it intersects with race and class.  The contrast with the moral framework around eating disorders really points out how media messages both reflect and shape our society's perceptions about a topic. 

If you haven't yet read this article, you should really go read it.  Go!

1 comment:

Heidi said...

I've often thought the conclusions they draw were correct but it's good to see a comprehensive literature review proving it!!