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Psychology and Mental Health

Chicago, USA
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The portrayal of overweight and obese persons in commercial television

Author(s): Greenberg BS, Eastin M, Hofshire L, Lachlan K, Brownell KD

Abstract

Objectives. This study examined the distribution and individual characteristics of body types on prime-time television.

Methods. Five episodes of each of the 10 top-rated prime-time fictional programs on 6 broadcast networks during the 1999–2000 season were quantitatively analyzed.

Results. Of 1018 major television characters, 14% of females and 24% of males were overweight or obese, less than half their percentages in the general population. Overweight and obese females were less likely to be considered attractive, to interact with romantic partners, or to display physical affection. Overweight and obese males were less likely to interact with romantic partners and friends or to talk about dating and were more likely to be shown eating.

Conclusions. Overweight and obese television characters are associated with specific negative characteristics.

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