Childhood Obesity Stigmas: Can Film Media Reduce Weight Stigma in Youth?

By Shelly Thurlo Sheinbein.

Published by The Sport Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Stigmatization of obesity negatively affects overweight children’s psychological development and can exacerbate their weight problems. The present study investigated whether a film showing overweight athletes being physically active can reduce stigmatization of obesity and motivate children to be more involved in athletics. Forty one elementary aged children (3rd – 5th grade) completed a pretest and three days later viewed a film on sports with either overweight or normal weight individuals and completed a posttest. Each questionnaire measured the participants’ stigmatizing attitudes toward obesity and motivation to be physically active. The students in the sample were mostly Hispanic and recruited from two public elementary schools in Los Angeles. The two stigmatizing attitudes scales included ranking figures with different physical characteristics and answering questions about an overweight child participating in athletics. The statistical analyses executed included ANOVA’s, Mann-Whitney U Tests, and T-tests. The main findings were that the film showing overweight individuals increased the children’s stigmatizing attitudes toward obesity (p = .026) and both films motivated the children to be more physically active (p = .079). Additionally, results indicated differences across the boys’ and girls’ stigmatizing attitudes toward a specific gender. These findings suggest utilizing film media in future stigma- reduction efforts among youth.

Keywords: Childhood Obesity, Stigma-Reduction Strategies, Physical Activity, Media Influence, Weight Stigmatization

The International Journal of Sport and Society, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp.195-208. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 765.544KB).

Shelly Thurlo Sheinbein

Undergraduate Student, Claremont McKenna College, Los Angeles, California, USA

In May 2010, I graduated from Claremont McKenna College and received a BA in Psychology with honors in my major and Cum Laude Latin honors. I have conducted both quantitative and qualitative psychological research on a variety of topics including optimal performance, sport commitment, jury decision-making, and childhood obesity. I am a physical trainer with a license in first aid and CPR according to the criteria set by the American Red Cross. I plan to pursue a Ph.D. in sport and exercise psychology with a focus on counseling. I wish to be AASP certified so I am qualified to work with collegiate and professional level athletes in research and therapy settings. My areas of research interest with athletes include performance anxiety, motivation, optimal performance, stress, and eating disorders.