The portrayal of obesity in U.K. national newspapers

Stuart W Flint, Joanne Hudson, David Lavallee

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Obesity is a major medical health challenge; however, the associated stigma represents a harmful and obstructive obstacle to treatment. This study’s purpose was to explore the portrayal of obesity in UK national newspapers. A purposive sample of 312 editions (weekday: n = 208; weekend: n = 104) from 6 newspapers (3 broadsheet; 3 tabloid) was analyzed. All text related to obesity was content analyzed. In total, 349 articles were analyzed. Weight stigmatization and the portrayal of overweight and obesity as a moral digression were evident. Findings demonstrate that U.K. national newspapers attribute obesity to controllable causes. Caricatured portrayals of overweight and obesity were evident and may play a pivotal role in the formation and maintenance of anti-obesity attitudes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-28
Number of pages13
JournalStigma and Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Anti-obesity attitudes
  • Weight stigmatization
  • Overweight and obesity
  • Newspaper portrayal


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