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Obes Facts. 2009;2(1):46-51. doi: 10.1159/000195697. Epub 2009 Feb 9.

Obesity in print: an analysis of daily newspapers.

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Department of Psychology, Philipps University of Marburg, Germany.



Stigmatizing attitudes towards obese people are common in the public. Based on findings that portrayals of obesity in entertainment media foster weight-related stigmatization, the goal of the current study was to analyze media coverage of obesity in daily newspapers.


For the year 2006, all 1,563 issues of five high-circulation daily newspapers (two national newspapers, one tabloid newspaper, and two local newspapers) in Germany were systematically searched for obesity-related terms. Out of these issues, 222 articles about human overweight were identified and subjected to a quantitative content analysis using a reliable coding system.


The national and local newspapers examined offered more comprehensive and less incorrect information about obesity than the tabloid newspaper. Compared with the other types of papers, the information about obesity in the local papers was less negative and less catastrophizing. The national newspapers presented more attributions of obesity to internal, controllable causes than the other newspaper types, and the tabloid newspaper used more personalized descriptions of cases with extreme features.


The current coverage of obesity in daily newspapers may contribute to stigmatization. Future research should examine readers' reception of newspaper information and potential destigmatization through more precise and less subjective coverage of obesity.

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