Managing Obesity Prevention Using Digital Media: A Double-Sided Approach

  • Guido ZurstiegeEmail author
  • Stephan Zipfel
  • Alexander Ort
  • Isabelle Mack
  • Tino G. K. Meitz
  • Norbert Schäffeler


In this chapter we report results from a study on a digital health communication campaign initiated by Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. This campaign has triggered a highly controversial discussion in the USA, because it used obese children and showed them in online media talking about being stigmatized. Our research is based on the assumption that controversial campaigns disseminated via online media run the risk of being re-contextualized, with the possible negative result of jeopardizing the original communicator’s intentions. Results showed that contextual reinforcement of the campaign message (in three contexts: Facebook, online-news, and a health-related blog) improved the self-relevance-perceptions of adolescent recipients. Also, the participants’ affective self-perceptions concerning their own weight were significantly influenced by the argumentative reframing of the original message on a Facebook site, a Blog, and an online news site. In addition, we report about the development and evaluation of a motion-controlled serious game used to address barriers of obesity prevention in school aged children. In the media, communication about health-related risks mainly uses fear as a motivation for lifestyle-changes, as the time window to communicate the message is usually very short. In contrast, to support motivation in an informal unguided learning context which has to be viable for a longer time, the gamification of learning content is an important strategy. The focus of the serious game is on (1) self-reflective diagnostic tools to analyse the daily food intake and free-time activities, (2) gamified information and knowledge-tests about food groups, drinks, and energy density, as well as (3) relaxation exercises to aid addressing psychosocial aspects.


Health communication Contextual effects Serious games Exergames Children Obesity Prevention 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Guido Zurstiege
    • 1
    Email author
  • Stephan Zipfel
    • 2
  • Alexander Ort
    • 3
  • Isabelle Mack
    • 2
  • Tino G. K. Meitz
    • 4
  • Norbert Schäffeler
    • 2
  1. 1.Division for Empirical Media Research, Institute for Media StudiesUniversity of TübingenTübingenGermany
  2. 2.Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and PsychotherapyTübingen University HospitalTübingenGermany
  3. 3.Department of Communication and Media Research (DCM), Empirical Communication ResearchUniversity of FribourgFribourgSwitzerland
  4. 4.Institute of Communication Research, Friedrich-Schiller-University JenaJenaGermany

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