College of Psychology: Faculty Articles

Title

Do Media Portrayals Of Obesity Influence Support For Weight-Related Medical Policy?

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2-2014

Keywords

Mass Media, Obesity, Stigma, Health Care Policy, Body Weight

Publication Title

Health Psychology

ISSN

0278-6133

Volume

33

Issue/No.

2

Abstract

Objective: The purpose of this research was to examine the impact of nonstigmatizing visual portrayals of obesity on support for a discriminatory weight-based medical policy. Method: Participants read an online news story about a policy to deny fertility treatment to obese women that was accompanied by a nonstigmatizing, stigmatizing, or no image of an obese couple. A balanced discussion of the policy was presented, with information both questioning the policy as discriminatory and supporting the policy because of weight-related medical complications. Results: Results revealed that participants who viewed the nonstigmatizing image were less supportive of the policy to deny obese women fertility treatment and recommended the policy less strongly than participants who viewed the stigmatizing image. Furthermore, weaker perceptions of medical risk mediated the effect of the nonstigmatizing image on policy ratings. Conclusion: The findings indicate that simply eliminating stigmatizing media portrayals of obesity may help reduce bias

DOI

10.1037/a0032592