HE&B APRIL 2019: Framing Obesity: Effects of Obesity Labeling and Prevalence Statistics on Public Perceptions


The rising prevalence rate of obesity in the United States has accentuated concerns about obesity-related problems as a major public health issue, which has motivated widespread efforts to increase public knowledge and to motivate individuals to change their relevant behaviors. Although health campaign messages commonly include information about prevalence rates for obesity, the impact of obesity labeling and prevalence rate descriptions in such messages has been overlooked by researchers. This online framing experiment fills the research gap by investigating the effects of obesity labeling (disease vs. body type) and prevalence statistics (prevalence rates of obesity, extreme obesity, combined overweight–obesity, or no prevalence information). Our findings suggest that obesity perceptions deviate from reality and that participants use framed cues in the health message as reference points when making judgments related to the nature and prevalence of obesity.

Moreover, this study shows that even accurate information might lead to inaccurate perceptions as a result of framing, and perceptions of the nature and prevalence of obesity mediate the effects of framing on behavioral intentions. Implications for obesity framing and the design of public health messages are discussed.

Continuing Education

2.0 CHES, 2.0 CPH, 2.0 Entry-level CECH
Production Date:


Price: $36.00