In many ways the media drives the thought process of the general public. What is reported and, more importantly, how it’s reported plays a key role in how we can look at a certain subject such as politics or social issues. In many cases, it can lead to division amongst the masses. It’s no different when talking about the media’s role in how obesity is viewed.
Yes, just like many other issues, the media has an influence on how obesity is viewed in the United States. Researchers from Chapman University, UCLA, and Stanford, sought to examine the effect media has on the general population’s view on obesity-related policies as well as their bias towards obese people. They did this by conducting experiments where people read news articles with rhetoric that put obesity in a certain frames. The context of the articles touched on the following subjects:
• “Fat Rights,” which emphasizes the idea that obesity is a positive form of body size diversity and that discrimination and prejudice is unacceptable
• “Health at Every Size,” which emphasizes the fact that body fat level is only weakly associated with health once a person’s exercise and dietary choices are taken into account (i.e. a person can be both “fit and fat”). This viewpoint encourages people to focus less on what the scale says and more on exercising and eating healthy
• “Public Health Crisis,” which presents obesity as a public health crisis warranting government intervention
• “Personal Responsibility,” which suggests bad food and exercise choices — as opposed to genetics or social factors — make people fat.
What they found was people that read the “fat rights” or “health at every size” articles said women could be healthier at a bigger weight at a far higher rate (65 and 71 percent) than those who read the “public health crisis” and “personal responsibility” articles.
“This is worrisome because there is extensive evidence that weight-based stigma negatively affects health, equal access to employment, earnings, education, and medical care,” says David Frederick, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Chapman University and lead author of the study.
A spotlight is shining on overweight people as of late and America’s obesity epidemic has been at the forefront of a lot of conversation. Outside of the potential health risks obesity may bring, being overweight could also affect other parts of a person’s life from their earning potential to insurance rates. And with the emergence of “fat-shaming,” which is criticizing and ridiculing someone simply because they are overweight, being overweight appears to be more than a health issue; it can be viewed instead as a taboo and something that should be looked down upon. Some will say the media has done nothing to dissuade such feelings, but rather reinforce them.
It’s a lot easier for decision makers to make the choices they want to make when they have the backing of the people it could possibly affect. One way to get that backing is to have people view the issue from a certain lens — something the media is well equipped to do. From employers to politicians, if the people are with you, that’s most of the battle to navigate things to your point of view. The media can play a key role in whether something can happen or not. The media has that power. Whether they use it for good or evil is subject to interpretation.
Source: Chapman University
Blog written by Marcus Miller/Robard Corporation
People that smoke cigarettes know the risk they are taking when doing it. Aside from the commercials they may see on television or their friends telling them about smoking’s pitfalls, they also see the warnings every time they buy a pack with the Surgeon General Warning on the side.
It looks like some want to have similar labels on sugar-sweetened drinks. Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine feel that such labels will have a positive effect on deterring parents from purchasing these drinks for their children. Sugar-sweetened drinks such as sodas and sugary juices have been found to have as much as seven teaspoons of sugar per 6.5 ounces. With the newest eating guidelines proclaiming that added sugar shouldn’t exceed 10 percent of a person’s daily calorie intake, that amount is almost double the dietary recommendation, making it a factor in the children obesity rate.
The main reason researchers are advocating for such a label is to better inform parents of the health risks that are included in the over-consumption of such beverages. Obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay are only a few things that children can be exposed to if they are to drink too many of these sugary drinks, dangers that the parent may not necessarily know about or consider when purchasing for their child.
Researchers put this theory to the test by surveying over 2,300 parents that have children between the ages of 6 and 11. They divided the parents into several groups, including: parents that saw no labels on beverages, parents that only saw how many calories were in the beverages, and several groups that saw different alterations of warning labels on the beverages.
When the parents were asked if they would buy sugar-sweetened drinks for their child, 40 percent of the parents that saw the warning labels said they would buy the drink for their child, compared to 60 percent who saw no labels on the beverages, and 53 percent who had calorie labels.
The labels did prove to have positive effects on parents, but there are other questions that arise. Such as will the parents choose healthy alternatives to these sugary drinks? Will they do it on a consistent basis? Will they make sure there isn’t over-consumption regardless of the beverage? But maybe warning labels is a step in the right direction particularly with reversing the increasing trend of childhood obesity. What effect do you think such labels will have on the purchase of sugary drinks?
Source: University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Blog written by Marcus Miller/Robard Corporation
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