From the Magic Bullet to Family Mealtime: An Analysis of the Obesity Epidemic in Time and Newsweek
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This thesis examines news articles to see if obesity has been framed as a moral panic by looking at how the coverage understands the causes of obesity and its solutions. A qualitative textual analysis of 100 articles and 28 images from Time and Newsweek was done spanning 1986 to 2012. I found that the obesity "epidemic" was first discussed as problem of individual responsibility and that the best cure was medicine. The narrative shifted to childhood obesity around 2004 and cited parents as the responsible party while suggesting family bonding as a solution to childhood obesity. I find that the media dialogue around obesity points to individuals rather than systemic factors as the cause of obesity and, in so doing, takes the focus off of social and economic inequalities that are also factors in the obesity epidemic.