Combating Weight Bias in the Media
People with obesity are highly stigmatized in our society and suffer from inequalities in employment, education, and health care as a result of weight discrimination. Studies show that the media is an especially pervasive source of stigmatization against persons with obesity. A recent Rudd Centre study found that 72% of photographs paired with online news stories about obesity are stigmatizing toward individuals with obesity. Additionally, we found that 65% of videos paired with online news stories about obesity stigmatize overweight/obese adults, and 77% of videos stigmatize youth with overweight and obesity. News photographs and videos tend to portray individuals with obesity as headless (i.e. only from the shoulders down), from unflattering angles (e.g. with only their abdomens or lower bodies shown), and engaging in stereotypical behaviours (e.g. eating unhealthy foods or engaging in sedentary behaviour). These images degrade and dehumanize individuals with obesity, while spreading false assumptions and oversimplifying the complexity of obesity.
In an effort to reduce pejorative portrayals of persons with obesity in media reporting, we have created an Image Gallery that provides a collection of photographs that individuals with obesity in ways that are positive and non-stereotypical. These images provide a fair and non-biased representation of youth and adults who have overweight and obesity. Our gallery can help promote accurate coverage of obesity-related topics in news reporting and challenge harmful weight-based stereotypes.