Examining the media portrayal of obesity through the lens of the Common Sense Model of Illness Representations
A. De Brún; M. McCarthy; K. McKenzie; A. McGloin
Year of publication
This study examined the Irish media discourse on obesity by employing the Common Sense Model of Illness Representations. A media sample of 368 transcripts was compiled from newspaper articles (n = 346), radio discussions (n = 5), and online news articles (n = 17) on overweight and obesity from the years 2005, 2007, and 2009. Using the Common Sense Model and framing theory to guide the investigation, a thematic analysis was conducted on the media sample. Analysis revealed that the behavioral dimensions of diet and activity levels were the most commonly cited causes of and interventions in obesity. The advertising industry was blamed for obesity, and there were calls for increased government action to tackle the issue. Physical illness and psychological consequences of obesity were prevalent in the sample, and analysis revealed that the economy, regardless of its state, was blamed for obesity. These results are discussed in terms of expectations of audience understandings of the issue and the implications of these dominant portrayals and framings on public support for interventions. The article also outlines the value of a qualitative analytical framework that combines the Common Sense Model and framing theory in the investigation of illness narratives.