Visual images influence public attitudes and shape understanding of issues, often more powerfully than verbal or textual content. Images used to accompany online or print news stories frequently depict people with obesity or overweight from a stereotyped viewpoint – often inactive or consuming unhealthy food or focusing on lower bodies, excluding heads from the frame. While, images of children with obesity or overweight are often unhappy children being bullied, teased, left out, or eating gluttonously.
These portrayals can have substantial effects on the public’s conceptualization of the issue. Non-stigmatizing obesity portrayals are critical to help alleviate blame for obesity and serve as an appropriate strategy for reducing weight bias.
The World Obesity Federation recently launched a gallery of free-to-use images across a range of cultural settings that can be used to illustrate advocacy to help ensure that accurate, non-biased, respectful images are widely available and used.