Obesity is one of the defining health challenges of our generation. Studies project that, if current trends continue, more than 50% of the US population will have obesity within the next 20 years.
Obesogenic Behavior and Weight-Based Stigma in Popular Children’s Movies, 2012 to 2015
Janna B. Howard, MPH, Asheley Cockrell Skinner, PhD, Sophie N. Ravanbakht, BA, Jane D. Brown, PhD, Andrew J. Perrin, PhD, Michael J. Steiner, MD, MPH, Eliana M. Perrin, MD, MPH, 2018. "Obesogenic Behavior and Weight-Based Stigma in Popular Children’s Movies, 2012 to 2015", Obesity: Stigma, Trends, and Interventions, American Academy of Pediatrics
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Obesity-promoting content and weight-stigmatizing messages are common in child-directed television programming and advertisements, and 1 study found similar trends in G- and PG-rated movies from 2006 to 2010. Our objective was to examine the prevalence of such content in more recent popular children’s movies.
Raters examined 31 top-grossing G- and PG-rated movies released from 2012 to 2015. For each 10-minute segment (N = 302) and for movies as units, raters documented the presence of eating-, activity-, and weight-related content observed on-screen. To assess interrater reliability, 10 movies (32%) were coded by more than 1 rater.
The result of Cohen’s κ test of agreement among 3 raters was 0.65 for binary responses (good agreement). All 31 movies included obesity-promoting content; most common were unhealthy foods (87% of movies, 42% of segments), exaggerated portion sizes (71%, 29%), screen use (68%, 38%), and sugar-sweetened beverages (61%, 24%). Weight-based stigma, such as a verbal insult about body size or weight, was observed in 84% of movies and 30% of segments.
Children’s movies include much obesogenic and weight-stigmatizing content. These messages are not shown in isolated incidences; rather, they often appear on-screen multiple times throughout the entire movie. Future research should explore these trends over time, and their effects.