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What's Wrong with Fat?The War on Obesity and its Collateral Damage$
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Abigail Saguy

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199857081

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199857081.001.0001

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Blame Frames

Blame Frames

(p.69) Chapter 3 Blame Frames
What's Wrong with Fat?

Abigail C Saguy

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the main ways in which blame and responsibility for a perceived obesity epidemic are typically framed, including as resulting from bad individual choices, sociocultural factors, or genetics/biology. It provides both a detailed discussion of the internal logic of each of these frames, as well as the relative power of their advocates. Drawing on a comparison of 261 articles on overweight or obesity and 70 U.S. news articles on eating disorders—all published in The New York Times and Newsweek between 1995 and 2005—the chapter examines the extent to which there is greater tendency to evoke a personal responsibility frame when discussing obesity than when discussing other issues. It shows that U.S. news reports are more likely to blame people for being “too fat” than for having eating disorders that lead them to be “too thin.” Drawing on a comparison of these U.S. articles with 108 French news reports on obesity, the chapter further examines the extent to which an emphasis on personal responsibility is especially pronounced in the United States. It shows that, while the U.S. news media stress individual responsibility for obesity, the French news reports tend to emphasize sociocultural and individual factors more equally.

Keywords:   personal responsibility, obesity epidemic, news articles, eating disorders, French media, U.S. media

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