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Body Image. 2007 Jun;4(2):147-55. Epub 2007 May 16.

Childhood obesity stigma: association with television, videogame, and magazine exposure.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2430 Campus Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, United States. jlatner@hawaii.edu


Although the stigmatization of obesity among children is highly prevalent, its origins and relationship to mass media exposure are largely unknown. Ninety boys and 171 girls aged 10-13 years (mean BMI=19.84) were asked to rank, in order of liking, 12 figures of peers depicted both with and without various disabilities or obesity, and to rate their attitudes towards the obese child on visual analogue scales. Weekly time spent watching television, watching videogames, and reading magazines on weekdays and weekends was assessed. Total media use, magazine use, and videogame use were significantly correlated with more negative reactions to obese girls and boys. Regression analyses revealed that greater dislike of obese children relative to their non-overweight peers was uniquely predicted by magazine reading time. Thus, media exposure was associated with stigmatizing attitudes towards obese children. Mass media sources may lead children to devalue and stigmatize peers with above-average body weights.

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