Obesity, eating disorders, and the media

The rising global prevalence of obesity and eating disorders can be considered one of the top public health challenges of the 21st century. With the large volume of recent scientific research on these conditions, and the increasing number of public health policies directed at their prevention, significant new information concerning obesity and eating disorders is emerging with great frequency. Only a small selection of this new information, however, crosses from the science and policy realms into the public sphere. Here, the news media play a crucial role. Lay concepts regarding the prevention, causation, and management of obesity and eating disorders are now largely informed by news media sources, where health information is communicated to the public with ever-growing immediacy, accessibility, and ubiquity.

Considering the news media’s potential influence on people’s health behaviours and lifestyle choices, the Unit for Biocultural Variation and Obesity is exploring the rationale and modes of representation guiding the media’s reporting on obesity and eating disorders.

Obesity, eating disorders, and the media: an interdisciplinary workshop

Wednesday 9 November 2011
St Anne’s College, University of Oxford

This workshop aimed to establish the state of the science and define best practices in utilizing digital methods to research the news media. Bringing together leading national and international experts on obesity, eating disorders, and media studies, this workshop was the first to offer a comprehensive examination of the media’s representations of obesity and eating disorders, as well as the first to explore the application of new digital humanities research methods to this field. It engendered innovative and collaborative research, and produced substantial new analyses of the media’s role in bridging science and the public.

Professor Stanley Ulijaszek, Dr Karin Eli, Professor David Zeitlyn
School of Anthropology, University of Oxford

A complete programme and abstract book for the event can be downloaded here. Recordings will be available online soon.

Stanley Ulijaszek & Karin Eli
(University of Oxford)
Obesity, eating disorders, and the media
Clive Seale
(Queen Mary, University of London)
Eating disorders in the media: the changing nature of UK   newspaper reports and a comparison with US media
Anna Lavis
(Goldsmiths, University of London)
Dangerous engagements? Exploring pro-anorexia websites   and/in the media
Paula Saukko
(Loughborough University)
Constructing the archetypal anorectic: trends in media   representations of eating disordered celebrities
Helen Malson
(University of the West of England)
The discursive regulation of ‘too fat’ and ‘too thin’   bodies
Stella Bruzzi
(University of Warwick)
Megan Warin
(University of Adelaide)
Biological postcards: the popularisation of Barker’s   hypothesis
Natalie Boero
(San Jose State University)
Obesity in the US media, 1990-2010
Helene Shugart
(University of Utah)
Competing contemporary discourses of obesity
Vivienne Parry, OBE
(Science writer and broadcaster)
Media representations of UK obesity policy
Tanja Schneider
(University of Oxford)
David Zeitlyn
(University of Oxford)
Analytical approaches to media representations
John McNaught
(National Centre for Text Mining [NaCTeM], Manchester)
Text mining techniques
Daphna Carmeli
(University of Haifa, Israel)
Prevalence scores: an evolving tool for database   analysis
James Thomas
(University of London)
How can we find relevant research more quickly in   systematic reviews?
Annamaria Carusi
(University of Oxford)

Clive Seale discusses newspaper reports on obesity.


Stella Bruzzi discusses eating disorders in the media.


Helen Malson talks about ‘too fat’ and ‘too thin’ bodies

lavis saukko

Paula Saukko and Anna Lavis (a UBVO Associate) discuss their work.


Natalie Boero presents data from US media.


Helene Shugart presents on competing discourses of obesity.


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