Online Program

Reframing the question: The 'obesity epidemic' and the voices of the fatosphere

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 : 8:45 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.

Meredith Pustell, BA, Sociology, Brown University, Providence, RI
By 2010, approximately 35.7 percent of the United States' adult population and almost 17 percent of youths were considered obese, despite numerous and varied interventions. While current policy and education campaigns do not appear to have reduced the incidence of obesity, they have contributed to an increase in the stigma associated with it. Women are particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of the perception of obesity, and rates of eating and body image disorders are high among the female population. A community of predominantly female bloggers, broadly referred to as the “Fatosphere,” emerged around 2007 to counter the mainstream narrative of obesity. These bloggers reject the narratives of illness and shame associated with being overweight and challenge understandings of its causes and consequences. This study will conduct a content analysis of a subset of Fatosphere posts in order to both describe the experiences of being obese in modern society, as well as to evaluate the impact of current policy on the well-being of affected populations. Data will be collected and analyzed between May and August 2013 and results will be ready for presentation in November. The discussion surrounding the obesity epidemic is concentrated in public health campaigns and health policy. The voices of the overweight population have often been absent from these conversations. An examination of Fatosphere will help scholars of public health to identify many of the social dimensions, potential limitations, and unintended consequences of current intervention efforts.

Learning Areas:

Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the experience and perceptions of individuals targeted by current obesity interventions. Assess how current obesity prevention policy may have unintended consequences for the population it seeks to help.

Keyword(s): Obesity, Barriers to Care

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a graduate student in the Brown University Department of Sociology, focusing on Health and Illness in Social Context. I worked for six years in the domestic health division of a U.S. based research and consulting firm and participated in numerous and varied health research projects. Among my scientific interests has been the social construction of concepts of health and wellness.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.