Weighing Women Down: Messages on Weight Loss and Body Shaping in Editorial Content in Popular Women's Health and Fitness Magazines.

Health communication

PubMedID: 23844558

Willis LE, Knobloch-Westerwick S. Weighing Women Down: Messages on Weight Loss and Body Shaping in Editorial Content in Popular Women's Health and Fitness Magazines. Health Commun. 2013;.
Exposure to idealized body images has been shown to lower women's body satisfaction. Yet some studies found the opposite, possibly because real-life media (as opposed to image-only stimuli) often embed such imagery in messages that suggest thinness is attainable. Drawing on social cognitive theory, the current content analysis investigated editorial body-shaping and weight-loss messages in popular women's health and fitness magazines. About five thousand magazine pages published in top-selling U.S. women's health and fitness magazines in 2010 were examined. The findings suggest that body shaping and weight loss are a major topic in these magazines, contributing to roughly one-fifth of all editorial content. Assessing standards of motivation and conduct, as well as behaviors promoted by the messages, the findings reflect overemphasis on appearance over health and on exercise-related behaviors over caloric reduction behaviors and the combination of both behaviors. These accentuations are at odds with public health recommendations.