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Eat Weight Disord. 2005 Jun;10(2):107-16.

Thin is "in" and stout is out" what animated cartoons tell viewers about body weight.

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Kensington Research Institute, 401 Schuyler Road, Silver Spring, MD 20910, USA.


Relying upon a content analysis of one specific type of medium to which young people are exposed beginning at an early age, on a regular basis, and for many years (i.e., animated cartoons), the present study examines what types of messages are provided about being underweight, overweight and normal weight. This research examines the following issues: (1) How prevalent is weight-related content in animated cartoons? (2) Has this prevalence changed over time? (3) What "types" of characteristics tend to be associated with being thinner-than-normal or heavier-than normal? Results indicate that the prevalence of both underweight and overweight characters has changed dramatically over the course of the past several decades. These relationships are both curvilinear in nature, but in recent decades have demonstrated a significant increase in the proportion of all cartoons showing characters that are underweight and a simultaneous decrease in the prevalence of characters that are overweight. Many variables were found to differ based on cartoon characters' body weight including gender, age, intelligence, physical attractiveness, emotional states experienced, prosocial behaviors, antisocial behaviors, and overall goodness/badness. Whenever differences were found, the overriding tendency was for cartoons to provide positive messages about being thin and negative messages about being overweight.

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