According to research out of Yale, there’s a fat chance that public health campaigns will help overweight Americans. The messages could have the opposite effect.
After analyzing 1,041 Americans and 30 public service announcements, the researchers concluded that the campaigns may make members of the intended audience feel worse about themselves. As a result, many will go to fridge to find comfort.
“Public health campaigns that are designed to address obesity should carefully consider the kinds of messages that are disseminated, so that those who are struggling with obesity can be supported in their efforts to become healthier, rather than shamed and stigmatized,” researcher Rebecca Puhl said.
The messages rated the most motivating were those that simply offered health tips.
“By stigmatizing obesity or individuals struggling with their weight, campaigns can alienate the audience they intend to motivate and hinder the behaviors they intend to encourage,” Puhl said.