Ms Marita Hennessy, Communications Lead on behalf of the ASOI, has written a letter published in yesterday’s Sunday Times responding to an article published on 28th April 2019. The letter highlighted the use of stigmatising language and imagery. The published article is available to view here for subscribers to The Times. A summary of the letter is as follows:
Mr John Burns Editor Sunday Times Ireland
30 April 2019
Re: Reporting of obesity-related stories in The Sunday Times
I am writing in response to an article that featured in The Sunday Times Ireland on 28 April 2019: “Obese mums-tobe told they need extra vitamins to help their unborn baby form properly”. The headline, accompanying imagery and use of non-person-first language in this article was incredibly stigmatising towards those with a higher weight.
The media is an influential source of information about obesity, and shapes public understanding and attitudes about this important health issue. People with overweight and obesity are often the target of negative attitudes in many areas of their lives, which is not without harm. Contrary to widely held beliefs, bias and stigma towards people living with obesity has in fact a negative impact on health, and on effective obesity intervention efforts.
Media guidelines are available which encourage media to: respect diversity and avoid stereotypes; use appropriate language and terminology; conduct balanced and accurate coverage of obesity; select appropriate images of individuals affected by obesity(1). Free image banks containing realistic portrayals of people with obesity are also available(2).
Please consider incorporating the aforementioned guidelines within editorial polices at The Sunday Times Ireland.
Communications Lead, Association for the Study of Obesity in Ireland (ASOI)
(1) UConn Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity, Obesity Society, Obesity Action Coalition, Obesity Medicine Association, American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. Guidelines for Media Portrayals of Individuals Affected by Obesity. Available at https://www.obesityaction.org/action-through-advocacy/weight-bias/mediaguidelines-for-obesity/
(2) European Association for the Study of Obesity. 2019. Obesity Image Bank. Available at https://easo.org/mediaportal/obesity-image-bank/