A study by Paula Brochu and colleagues, published in Health Psychology, suggests that the often unflattering depiction of people living with obesity in the media (as in the typical images of headless, dishevelled, ill-clothed individuals, usually involved in stereotypical activities – holding a hamburger in one hand and a large pop in the other or pinching their “love handles”), may well play a role in the lack of public support for policies to address this issue.
The researchers asked participants to 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.
The findings of the study show that participants who viewed the article accompanied by 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 same article accompanied by the stigmatizing image.
Given that negative and stigmatising images of people with obesity are the rule rather than the exception in media reports about obesity, the authors suggest that simply eliminating stigmatizing media portrayals of obesity may help reduce bias and foster more support for policies to address this problem.
Readers may wish to visit the Canadian Obesity Network’s image bank Picture Perfect At Any Size of non-stigmatizing images of people living with obesity that are available for free download for educational and media purposes.
Today, I would like to introduce you to Sadly The Line-Dancing Owl, who one morning wakes up with a dark cloud over his head.
Learn how Sadly in the end overcomes his sadness and how he finds the help he needs to be his happy self again.
After tackling immigration and bullying, Linnie turns her attention to depression – in a children’s book that she admits is somewhat autobiographical,
“Depression is REAL and it SUCKS…at least it sucked the living daylight out of me and consumes too many people I love.”
Along for the ride is the incredibly talented Ashley O’Mara as the new illustrator. Ashley is a Vancouverite, Emily Carr Graduate, Bird Lover (she draws the cutest darn chickens I’ve ever seen) and like Linnie, knows a thing or two about how much depression hurts.
Please consider supporting Linnie’s fundraising campaign by pre-ordering your personal copy(ies) of Sadly The Line-Dancing Owl, which will again be 100% made in Canada.
To learn more about Sadly and how you can support this venture, please take a minute to visit Linnie’s Indiegogo page.
Today’s post is to announce the arrival of my daughter Linnie von Sky’s second children’s book, “Pom Pom A Flightless Bully Tale“, that hundreds of you helped fund by pre-ordering your copy(ies) about 12 months ago – your books are in the mail and should be there in time for the Holidays (a big THANK YOU from me for your support!).
To those of you, who are new to these pages, Pom Pom is the story of the slightly rotund little penguin Pomeroy Paulus Jr III., who simply hates it when people call him “Pom Pom”. Like any boy his age he’s busy trying to impress ‘the birds’, particularly one bird: Pia. Pomeroy dreams of a pair of orange swim trunks; the ones that Pete, Pucker and Piper own. The same ones Pia said she loved. There’s just one little hiccup. The antAmart doesn’t carry them in his size.
The story tells of how mom helps Pomeroy get his own pair of orange swim trunks and how Pia saves the day when she steps up and puts bullies in their place.
Here is what Linnie had to say about the reason for writing this book in an interview with Lindsay william-Ross for VancityBuzz:
“When you talk about bullying you have to talk about how much it hurts. Kids understand that,” says von Sky, who hopes her stories ignite conversations. Of “Pom Pom,” von Sky remarks: “I think it’s an encouragement to talk about emotions. What triggers certain actions, what makes somebody want to hurt someone else. Are they hurting?”
For von Sky, whose protagonist in “Pom Pom” is picked on because of his size, the pain of bullying in the story echoes the passion she first tapped into working with the Canadian Obesity Network. “Weight bullying happens to be the one thing I’m extremely allergic to,” affirms von Sky.
For any of you who would like to order your own copy of this delightful little children’s book about bullying, friendship, respect, sadness, empathy, standing up for friends, antarctica, penguins & above all, love (for ages 3 and up) – click here.
If you have a professional interest in obesity, it’s your #1 destination for learning, sharing and networking with experts from across Canada around the world.
In 2015, the Canadian Obesity Network (CON-RCO) and the Canadian Association of Bariatric Physicians and Surgeons (CABPS) are combining resources to hold their scientific meetings under one roof.
The 4th Canadian Obesity Summit (#COS2015) will provide the latest information on obesity research, prevention and management to scientists, health care practitioners, policy makers, partner organizations and industry stakeholders working to reduce the social, mental and physical burden of obesity on Canadians.
The COS 2015 program will include plenary presentations, original scientific oral and poster presentations, interactive workshops and a large exhibit hall. Most importantly, COS 2015 will provide ample opportunity for networking and knowledge exchange for anyone with a professional interest in this field.
Abstract submission is now open – click here
- Notification of abstract review: January 8, 2015
- Call for late breaking abstracts open: Jan 12-30, 2015
- Notification of late breaking abstracts and handouts and slides due : Feb 27, 2015
- Early registration deadline: March 3, 2015
For exhibitor and sponsorship information – click here
To join the Canadian Obesity Network – click here
I look forward to seeing you in Toronto next year!
Thus, it is easy to see how avid use of such platforms (especially those with ample picture posts) can potentially promote body image and weight obsessions in those who may not be quite confident and happy about their appearance.
That this may not just be an interesting theory is suggested by two studies by Annalise Mabe and colleagues from Florida State University, published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders.
In the first study 960 female college students completed an Eating Attitudes Test that included Dieting and Bulimia/Food Preoccupation subscales with items such as “I eat diet foods” and “I give too much time and thought to food.”
Duration of Facebook use was assessed with the question “How much time do you spend on Facebook per week?” with options ranging from 0 to >7 hours (average used tended to be just over 2 hours per week).
This study found a small but statistically significant positive relationship between the duration of Facebook use and disordered eating.
In the second study, 84 women, who had participated in the first study and endorsed Facebook use on a weekly basis were randomization to either spending 20 mins on their facebook account or finding information about the ocelot on Wikipedia and YouTube.
Participants with greater disordered eating scores endorsed greater importance of receiving comments on their status, and greater importance of receiving “likes” on their status. Those with greater eating pathology reported untagging photos of themselves more often and endorsed comparing their photos to their female friends’ photos more often.
Participants in the control group demonstrated a greater decline in weight/shape preoccupation than did participants who spent 20 min on Facebook. Furthermore post hoc comparisons supported a significant decrease in weight/shape preoccupation in controls.
Facebook use resulted in a preoccupation with weight and shape compared to an internet control condition despite several multivariate adjustments.
As the authors discuss, their finding,
“indicates that typical Facebook use may contribute to maintenance of weight/shape concerns and state anxiety, both of which are established eating disorder risk factors.”
In terms of practical implications of these findings, the authors suggest that,
“Facebook could be targeted as a maintenance factor in prevention programs. For example, interventions could address the implications of appearance-focused comments such as “you look so thin” or “I wish I had your abs,” in perpetuating the thin ideal on Facebook, much as “fat talk” perpetuates this ideal in everyday conversations. An adaption of the “Fat Talk Free” campaign as well as adaptations of media literacy programs could encourage girls and women in the responsible use of social media sites.”
Clearly, this appears to me as a rather fertile area for further research.
I’d certainly be interested in hearing about your experience with facebook and any effects it may have had on your body image or eating behaviours.
Mabe AG, Forney KJ, & Keel PK (2014). Do you “like” my photo? Facebook use maintains eating disorder risk. The International journal of eating disorders, 47 (5), 516-23 PMID: 25035882