Never thought about it….Biggest loser creating possibly negative bias towards obese/overweight people

So I did get out to the local medical library and had a chance to pour over their lovely collection of online journal articles. It turns out that the institution has changed policy since last I was there, and now there is a time limit… so it was a mad dash to the finish to get as MANY different journal PDF’s as I could… and I will be pouring over them to try to come up with a good experiment of some type soon… I found some really interesting articles.

Including: The Effects of Reality Television on Weight Bias: an Examination of The Biggest Loser

By Domoff Et al.

It never ever occurred to me that it would be possible to watch that show and be anything but inspired, there are many of us who lack the discipline to brush our teeth at night, much less do what some of those contestants do for days, weeks, and months (some for the rest of their lives) on a regular basis. Interestingly enough, there has been debate among the masses as to the effect that this show has on the perceptions of obese people by the masses.

Typically ,as stated by the article, the media has reinforced what are considered to be unflattering stereotypes of the obese and are generally portrayed as protagonists with decreased frequency. This study was established exactly to try to gauge its impact on people’s attitude after exposure to its content.

Methods and procedures (Abbreviated):

Sixty four adults were recruited from (mean age 20, 66.1% female, mean BMI 25.8, and 69.5% Caucasian). The study was advertised to participants as “Effect of media consumption on processing” so that all those participating wouldnt be wise as to the real reason of the study. Participants were asked to fill out surveys (30 min session) previous to being exposed to media, then again retested a week later after being exposed to media (90 min session). During the second session participants were randomly placed into two groups one group watched the biggest loser (episode 17, season 7) and the other group watched meerkat manor (season 4, episodes 1 and 4).

Results and discussion (summary):

The question which was the aim of this study to answer was: Does watching obese contestants engaging in the extreme exercise and strict diet affect perception of obese people? After watching the Biggest loser, negative attitudes towards obese people did not improve, rather it caused even more negative attitudes. Watching 40 minutes of the biggest loser influenced participants to believe that weight is manageable and thus a stronger dislike of obese people.

Note: I started posting this yesterday, but I am still not 100%, so I am posting the completed post today


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