Weight stigma involves stereotyping individuals based on body size. Individuals with obesity face weight stigma in many areas of their lives, and consequences can include impairment of mental and physical health, relationships, and academic performance. Weight-stigmatizing messages are pervasive in mass media, but the degree and characteristics of its presence within new-media social environments remain comparatively unknown.
This study examined weight stigma on Twitter by coding Tweet content that included the word “fat” within a 4-h timeframe (N = 4596). Coding marked demographic characteristics represented in content, messages about weight, and perceived intent of the message.
Of all messages, 56.57 % were negative and 32.09 % were neutral. Of those containing weight-stigmatizing messages (n = 529), themes relating to fatness included: gluttonous (48.58 %), unattractive (25.14 %), not sexually desirable (2.65 %), sedentary (13.80 %), lazy (5.86 %), and stupid (4.16 %).
Weight-stigmatizing messages are evident in the increasingly important arena of social media, and themes appear similar to those that emerge in other forms of media. Prevention and intervention body image programs should consider targeting social networks to help individuals manage societal messages.
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On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.
This article does not contain any studies with human subjects according to the Office of Human Research Protections' definition of a human subject, § 45 CFR 46.102(f) (i.e., a living individual about whom an investigator conducting research obtains data through intervention or interaction with the individual, or identifiable private information), as all data were retrospective and non-identifiable.
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Lydecker, J.A., Cotter, E.W., Palmberg, A.A. et al. Does this Tweet make me look fat? A content analysis of weight stigma on Twitter. Eat Weight Disord 21, 229–235 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40519-016-0272-x
- Weight stigma
- Content analysis
- Social media