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Measuring Perceptions and Attitudes about Overweight and Obesity


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Principal Investigator(s):

Eric Oliver
University of Chicago
Email: eoliver@uchicago.edu
Home page: http://political-science.uchicago.edu/people/faculty/oliver.shtml

Taeku Lee
UC Berkeley
Email: taekulee@berkeley.edu
Home page: http://polisci.berkeley.edu/people/person/taeku-lee

Sample size: 895
Field period: 03/23/2004 - 04/07/2004

 

Abstract:

This study used an Internet-based survey experiment to examine attitudes about obesity and how these vary according to race, gender, and body size.

Respondents were shown a series of computer altered images of people at different body sizes and asked to evaluate at what point they considered the person "overweight" and "obese"

Hypotheses:

1. Women and minorities will be judged as overweight and obese at levels that are different than men and whites.

2. White and minority respondents differ in their perceptions about what is overweight and obese.

Experimental Manipulations:

The sample is randomly divided between the images that a person sees (i.e., black male/black female; black male/white/female etc.)

Key Dependent Variables:

Determination of which point on the scale a person is deemed "overweight" or "obese"

Additional Information:

The survey also included items asking about which factors are most responsible for obesity (genetics, environment, etc.).

Summary of Findings:

Women are identified as overweight and obese at body sizes that are far smaller than their male counterparts. There are almost no differences in the perception of overweight and obese in the person by the race of the image. There are, however, differences in perceptions of overweight and obese by the race of the respondent - white men judge smaller figures as obese and overweight than black men.

Conclusion:

Women are identified as overweight and obese at body sizes that are far smaller than their male counterparts. There are almost no differences in the perception of overweight and obese in the person by the race of the image. There are, however, differences in perceptions of overweight and obese by the race of the respondent - white men judge smaller figures as obese and overweight than black men.

References:

Oliver, J. Eric. 2005. Big, Fat Politics: the Making of America's Obesity Epidemic. Oxford University Press.

Oliver, J. Eric and Taeku Lee. 2005. "Public Opinion and the Politics of Obesity." Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law


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