Obesity Epidemic in the United Kingdom

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A recent study considered the framing of the obesity epidemic in UK newspapers from 1996 to 2010. It claims that during this fifteen year period there was an increase in media reporting on obesity. These figures may reflect the claims that obesity was on the increase during this period. However, an article in the Sociolgical Forum suggests that “Journalists sensationalise what they report on by using certain themes, language or metaphors to attract public attention” (Saguy & Almeling, 2008, p.57). By using words and phrases such as ‘epidemic’, ‘battling the bulge’ and ‘war on obesity’ they may be dramatising the risks of obesity (Saguy & Almeling, 2008, p.57). Media reporting has also been criticised for stigmatising obese persons and blaming obesity on the individual for making poor choices and being lazy. Reports often ignore important societal, economic, biological, and environmental contributors of obesity. Such negative and biased reporting can mislead the public and interfere with efforts to improve health. A newspaper article by The Food (2014) highlighted claims made by the influential lobby group, the National Obesity Forum (NOF), of an obesity epidemic in the UK, which suggested that “The scale of the crisis has been underestimated” (Stones, 2014). However, Tam Fry, a spokesman NOF has admitted “exaggerating the severity of the UK’s national obesity epidemic and relying on anecdotal evidence, rather than scientific research” due to

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