Obesity in the new media: a content analysis of obesity videos on YouTube

Health Commun. 2012;27(1):86-97. doi: 10.1080/10410236.2011.569003. Epub 2011 Aug 2.


This study examines (1) how the topics of obesity are framed and (2) how obese persons are portrayed on YouTube video clips. The analysis of 417 obesity videos revealed that a newer medium like YouTube, similar to traditional media, appeared to assign responsibility and solutions for obesity mainly to individuals and their behaviors, although there was a tendency that some video categories have started to show other causal claims or solutions. However, due to the prevailing emphasis on personal causes and solutions, numerous YouTube videos had a theme of weight-based teasing, or showed obese persons engaging in stereotypical eating behaviors. We discuss a potential impact of YouTube videos on shaping viewers' perceptions about obesity and further reinforcing stigmatization of obese persons.

MeSH terms

  • Feeding Behavior
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Health Communication / methods*
  • Humans
  • Information Dissemination
  • Internet*
  • Obesity / etiology*
  • Obesity / genetics
  • Obesity / psychology*
  • Perception
  • Prejudice
  • United States
  • Videotape Recording