Plus-sized models in ads linked to rising obesity, new study says
Plus-sized models in ads linked to rising obesity, new study says

Plus-sized models in ads linked to rising obesity, new study says

A new study from SFU’s Beedie School of Business suggests using plus-sized models in advertising might have a detrimental effect on people’s health, particularly when it comes to obesity.

The study says using plus-sized models as a way to encourage body positivity might actually promote consumption of unhealthy foods and discourage people from exercising on the premise that obesity is socially acceptable.

The researchers conducted five experiments to see how subjects would react to cues suggesting that obesity was acceptable.

In each instance the subjects displayed a greater intended or actual consumption of unhealthy food and a reduced motivation to engage in a healthier lifestyle, driven by an increased belief that obesity was more socially acceptable.

The study’s authors posit that efforts to increase acceptance are resulting in increasing the amount of thought consumers put into their appearance and heightening body anxiety – ironically the opposite of what many of these marketing campaigns are trying to achieve.

The findings have implications for both public policy makers and advertisers. The researchers advise both to be mindful of how individuals’ bodies are portrayed in the media, and develop new strategies that don’t focus on suggesting any shape is “good” or “bad”.

“Although this study demonstrates that accepting larger bodies results is associated with negative consequences, research also shows that ‘fat-shaming’ -or stigmatizing such bodies – fails to improve motivation to lose weight,” says study co-author Brent McFerran.

“Since neither accepting nor stigmatizing larger bodies achieves the desired results, it would be beneficial for marketers and policy makers to instead find a middle ground – using images of people with a healthy weight, and more importantly, refraining from drawing attention to the body size issue entirely.”

[Photo Tess Munster/Facebook]



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    1. This is like saying that all models affect our perceptions and can contribute to body image issues..sighhhh hope no one was paid for this “study”

    2. Unfortunately, it does seem as if we’ve beginning to accept that obese is the new normal, which would be okay if it didn’t come with big healthcare costs. Already we see a tsunami of healthcare cost coming towards us and instead of taking the politically correct view of obesity, we should fight it just as we fight climate change.

    3. Huh? It’s only in the last couple of years that we’ve had many ads for plus-sized models. Somehow in that time, we ran the ads, changed peoples’ eating habits and caused them to gain weight? And we have a control group of people who’ve never seen the ads? Utter, unmitigated b***$***.

    4. Because ultra thin models don’t contribute to an unhealthy body image or eating disorders. Amirite?

    5. I find this quite funny after hearing for years how thin models were unhealthy for people to see due to it making them feel bad for being overwieght

    6. Why are we attributing any kind of importance on studies anyway? Because there is a political impetus to push one thing or another– in this case getting everyone thin for “health” reasons. It’s more about making money than actual health. And misusing studies and other statistics for political reasons is just evil.

    7. “Rising obesity is linked to sedentary life-styles, poor genetics and over consumption. All advertisements are therefor linked to obesity, as one must be stupid, sitting and watching too many to pay attention. ”

      – Josh Stovall, 2015

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