The Effect of Message Cues on Stigmatization and Support: An Examination of Obesity-Related Conversations on Weibo

Yan Su 1 * , Xizhu Xiao 1, Wenxuan Shu 2

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Obesity is inflicting millions of adults and children in China. Although Social media has shown to provide peer support to obese individuals, it also contributes to stigmatization of obesity. Therefore, monitoring social media conversations about obesity seems critical for health researchers to address this health risk. With a sample of 222 original Weibo posts and 10,640 responses, this content analysis examined the portrayal of Chinese media’s online accounts about obesity, as well as its effects on stigmatization and support among the followers. The study revealed that the followers were more likely to stigmatize obesity when the media depicted it as a cosmetic issue, in a teasing context, and targeted at specific individuals. However, definitional focus of social burden and genetic, environmental, and family attributes were found to trigger supports. Implications are discussed.


obesity stigma support social media Weibo definitional focus


This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Article Type: Research Article

Online Journal of Communication and Media Technologies, Volume 10, Issue 2, April 2020, Article No: e202004

Published Online: 17 Mar 2020

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Article Downloads: 327

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