New Media Guidelines and Image Gallery Promote Unbiased Coverage of Obesity in the News

The Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale has launched two new comprehensive resources to aid journalists, photo editors, bloggers, advertisers and other influencers in the creation and delivery of fair, unbiased coverage of obesity and weight-related topics on television, in print and online.

Together with the Obesity Society, the Rudd Center has created a new set of comprehensive media guidelines to assist content creators in the portrayal of overweight and obese persons and to help ensure that stigmatizing and pejorative portrayals of overweight and obese persons are avoided in journalistic media, entertainment and ads.

Dr. Rebecca Puhl, director of research and weight stigma initiatives at the Rudd Center, led the creation of the guidelines. “The media is an important and influential source of information about obesity, and shapes the public’s attitudes in important ways,” she said. “We hope that these resources will assist journalists and reporters in their efforts to accurately cover obesity-related topics and to avoid stigmatizing overweight and obese persons.”

As part of this initiative, the Rudd Center has also launched a free image gallery on www.yaleruddcenter.org. With a current collection of more than 150 professional photographs that portray obese individuals in ways that are positive and non-stereotypical, the image gallery is available to anyone with a need for online or print-quality graphics.

“The images that accompany news articles or advertisements shape our perceptions before we’ve read a single word,” said Dr. Puhl. “Our research shows that negative images of obese persons are pervasive in the media, so we are pleased to now offer high quality artwork that portrays obese individuals in non-stereotypical ways, and does not contribute to the depersonalization and stigmatization of overweight and obese persons.”

Contact: Rebecca Oren 203-436-2513, cell 203-285-5961 or rebecca.oren@yale.edu

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