A content analysis of weight stigmatization in popular television programming for adolescents

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17 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objective This study provides updated information regarding the prevalence and characteristics of weight stigma in popular adolescent television programming, using a sample of favorite shows named by diverse adolescents. Method Participants in a large, population-based study of Minnesota adolescents (N = 2,793, mean age = 14.4) listed their top three favorite television shows. A coding instrument was developed to analyze randomly selected episodes from the most popular 10 programs. Weight-stigmatizing incidents were compared across television show characteristics and characters' gender and weight status. Results Half (50%) of the 30 episodes analyzed contained at least one weight-stigmatizing incident. Both youth- and adult-targeted shows contained weight-stigmatizing comments, but the percent of these comments was much higher for youth-targeted (55.6%) than general audience-targeted shows (8.3%). Male characters were more likely than females to engage in (72.7% vs. 27.3%), and be the targets of, weight stigma (63.6% vs. 36.4%), and there was no difference in the amount of weight stigmatizing directed at average weight females compared to overweight females. Targets of these instances showed a negative response in only about one-third of cases, but audience laughter followed 40.9% of cases. Discussion The portrayal of weight stigmatization on popular television shows - including targeting women of average weight - sends signals to adolescents about the wide acceptability of this behavior and the expected response, which may be harmful. Prevention of weight stigmatization should take a multi-faceted approach and include the media. Future research should explore the impact that weight-related stigma in television content has on viewers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)759-766
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
Volume48
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

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Stereotyping
Television
Weights and Measures
Laughter

Keywords

  • adolescents
  • media exposure
  • weight stigmatization
  • weight teasing

Cite this

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title = "A content analysis of weight stigmatization in popular television programming for adolescents",
abstract = "Objective This study provides updated information regarding the prevalence and characteristics of weight stigma in popular adolescent television programming, using a sample of favorite shows named by diverse adolescents. Method Participants in a large, population-based study of Minnesota adolescents (N = 2,793, mean age = 14.4) listed their top three favorite television shows. A coding instrument was developed to analyze randomly selected episodes from the most popular 10 programs. Weight-stigmatizing incidents were compared across television show characteristics and characters' gender and weight status. Results Half (50{\%}) of the 30 episodes analyzed contained at least one weight-stigmatizing incident. Both youth- and adult-targeted shows contained weight-stigmatizing comments, but the percent of these comments was much higher for youth-targeted (55.6{\%}) than general audience-targeted shows (8.3{\%}). Male characters were more likely than females to engage in (72.7{\%} vs. 27.3{\%}), and be the targets of, weight stigma (63.6{\%} vs. 36.4{\%}), and there was no difference in the amount of weight stigmatizing directed at average weight females compared to overweight females. Targets of these instances showed a negative response in only about one-third of cases, but audience laughter followed 40.9{\%} of cases. Discussion The portrayal of weight stigmatization on popular television shows - including targeting women of average weight - sends signals to adolescents about the wide acceptability of this behavior and the expected response, which may be harmful. Prevention of weight stigmatization should take a multi-faceted approach and include the media. Future research should explore the impact that weight-related stigma in television content has on viewers.",
keywords = "adolescents, media exposure, weight stigmatization, weight teasing",
author = "Eisenberg, {Marla E.} and Ashley Carlson-Mcguire and Gollust, {Sarah E.} and Dianne Neumark-Sztainer",
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AU - Eisenberg, Marla E.

AU - Carlson-Mcguire, Ashley

AU - Gollust, Sarah E.

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N2 - Objective This study provides updated information regarding the prevalence and characteristics of weight stigma in popular adolescent television programming, using a sample of favorite shows named by diverse adolescents. Method Participants in a large, population-based study of Minnesota adolescents (N = 2,793, mean age = 14.4) listed their top three favorite television shows. A coding instrument was developed to analyze randomly selected episodes from the most popular 10 programs. Weight-stigmatizing incidents were compared across television show characteristics and characters' gender and weight status. Results Half (50%) of the 30 episodes analyzed contained at least one weight-stigmatizing incident. Both youth- and adult-targeted shows contained weight-stigmatizing comments, but the percent of these comments was much higher for youth-targeted (55.6%) than general audience-targeted shows (8.3%). Male characters were more likely than females to engage in (72.7% vs. 27.3%), and be the targets of, weight stigma (63.6% vs. 36.4%), and there was no difference in the amount of weight stigmatizing directed at average weight females compared to overweight females. Targets of these instances showed a negative response in only about one-third of cases, but audience laughter followed 40.9% of cases. Discussion The portrayal of weight stigmatization on popular television shows - including targeting women of average weight - sends signals to adolescents about the wide acceptability of this behavior and the expected response, which may be harmful. Prevention of weight stigmatization should take a multi-faceted approach and include the media. Future research should explore the impact that weight-related stigma in television content has on viewers.

AB - Objective This study provides updated information regarding the prevalence and characteristics of weight stigma in popular adolescent television programming, using a sample of favorite shows named by diverse adolescents. Method Participants in a large, population-based study of Minnesota adolescents (N = 2,793, mean age = 14.4) listed their top three favorite television shows. A coding instrument was developed to analyze randomly selected episodes from the most popular 10 programs. Weight-stigmatizing incidents were compared across television show characteristics and characters' gender and weight status. Results Half (50%) of the 30 episodes analyzed contained at least one weight-stigmatizing incident. Both youth- and adult-targeted shows contained weight-stigmatizing comments, but the percent of these comments was much higher for youth-targeted (55.6%) than general audience-targeted shows (8.3%). Male characters were more likely than females to engage in (72.7% vs. 27.3%), and be the targets of, weight stigma (63.6% vs. 36.4%), and there was no difference in the amount of weight stigmatizing directed at average weight females compared to overweight females. Targets of these instances showed a negative response in only about one-third of cases, but audience laughter followed 40.9% of cases. Discussion The portrayal of weight stigmatization on popular television shows - including targeting women of average weight - sends signals to adolescents about the wide acceptability of this behavior and the expected response, which may be harmful. Prevention of weight stigmatization should take a multi-faceted approach and include the media. Future research should explore the impact that weight-related stigma in television content has on viewers.

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