Guidelines for Media Portrayals of Individuals Affected by Obesity

The media is an influential source of information about obesity, and shapes public understanding and attitudes about this important health issue. From network news to daily newspapers, obesity has become a fixture of daily headlines throughout the United States, and while this certainly raises the profile of obesity and its serious health implications, media representatives often unknowingly depict obesity, and those affected by it, in a negative light.

In an effort to educate media representatives on how to appropriately discuss the disease of obesity in the media, the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC), along with The Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity and The Obesity Society (TOS) have developed the Guidelines for Media Portrayals of Individuals Affected by Obesity.

The guidelines focus on areas of journalistic reporting such as:

      • Respect Diversity and Avoid Stereotypes
      • Use Appropriate Language and Terminology (People-First Language for Obesity)
      • Conduct Balanced and Accurate Coverage of Obesity
      • Select Appropriate Picture and Images of Individuals Affected by Obesity

Obesity should be treated just like any other disease in the media. It is the hope of the OAC, The Rudd Center and TOS, that the media will adhere to these guidelines when covering the topic of obesity and those affected by it.

To view the Guidelines for Media Portrayals of Individuals Affected by Obesity, please click here (PDF).



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