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Are words weighing down the development of policy for better health?
Date:5/10/2011

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 9, 2011 Unrealistic and uninformed media portrayals of weight not only can negatively influence individual behavior, but can impact how policymakers approach issues of weight and health. The result, according to experts from the Strategies to Overcome and Prevent (STOP) Obesity Alliance and the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), is a continued belief that these issues are largely a matter of personal responsibility and that little can or should be done in policy to address them.

Susan Dentzer, editor of Health Affairs, moderated a panel convened today on Capitol Hill to discuss the media's role in shaping the policy environment surrounding weight and health. Panelists discussed whether policymakers believe that weight is an individual issue or a public health problem and whether media plays a role in driving who is responsible and who should take action.

"In a time of ongoing budget tightening and confusion regarding health care coverage, we must find a way to create policies that address obesity and eating disorders, without letting our own biases get in the way," said Christine Ferguson, J.D., Director of the STOP Obesity Alliance. "There is no evidence that stigmatizing weight-related health issues prevents or treats these problems in fact, the opposite appears to be true. It is an important opportunity for members of both the obesity and eating disorders communities to advocate for a focus on health rather than weight as a measure of well-being."

The groups released a new analysis of media coverage that showed room to improve the reporting on weight and health, based on a series of media guidelines released by the STOP Obesity Alliance and NEDA last year.

The guidelines offer simple message themes to include when addressing weight and focus on the concept that weight status and the importance of maintaining a healthy weight is not about appearance, but about health. A co
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Contact: Alice Sofield
asofield@ccapr.com
202-609-6006
Chandler Chicco Agency
Source:Eurekalert

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