October 2017 Newsletter

Rudd Center Recent Publications

Healthy Lifestyle Messages in Ads for Unhealthy Food and Drinks Are Not the Way to Teach Children About Good Health

Food and beverage companies claim that healthy lifestyle messages, such as promoting physical activity and good eating habits, in advertising to children teaches them about health and nutrition.

However, a new study by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut, published Oct. 27 in Pediatric Obesity, found that children who viewed TV commercials for unhealthy food and drinks that included healthy lifestyle messages rated the products as more healthful compared to children who saw commercials for similar products with a different message.

"Our results confirming 'health halo' effects from healthy messages in child-directed advertising for unhealthy food and drinks are cause for public health concern," said Jennifer Harris, Director of Marketing Initiatives for the UConn Rudd Center, and lead author of the study. "This common practice likely benefits food companies by making unhealthy products seem healthier to children, but we found no evidence that they teach children about good health or nutrition."

Study Shows Self-Directed Weight Stigma is Prevalent in U.S. Adults

Negative stereotypes and biases against people with obesity are widespread and this weight stigma can be harmful for physical and emotional health.

Distinct from experiencing weight stigma, many individuals who are targets of bias also internalize the stigma directed towards them, blaming themselves for the stigma and unfair treatment they experience because of their weight. Internalized weight bias has been linked to concerning health consequences, but little is known about the prevalence of this self-directed stigma – until now.

A new study by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut, published Oct. 30 in the journal Obesity, shows that internalized weight bias is prevalent among U.S. women and men, with high levels of internalized weight stigma in approximately 1 in 5 adults in the general population and as many as 52 percent of adults with obesity.

“Our findings indicate that internalized weight bias is common in the general population, and present among individuals across a range of body weights. Adults with high levels of weight bias internalization are more likely to be white, have a higher body-mass index, lower education and income, and be actively trying to lose weight,” said Rebecca Puhl, Deputy Director of the UConn Rudd Center, Professor of Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Connecticut, and the study’s lead author. “Furthermore, people with high levels of internalization had experienced considerable weight stigma in their lives, especially being teased or treated unfairly by others because of their weight,” Puhl said.

Rudd Center in the News

Rudd Center Deputy Director Rebecca Puhl's study showing the prevalence of self-directed weight stigma among U.S. adults was featured in an Oct. 30 article carried by the Hearst Connecticut newspapers: UConn Study: 1 in 5 adults turn weight bias inward.

UConn Today carried articles on our study of "health halo" effects of healthy lifestyle messages included in TV ads for unhealthy foods directed at children and on our study showing the prevalence of self-directed weight stigma among U.S. adults:

Connecticut By The Numbers carried an Oct. 2 piece on our study showing Hispanic youth are disproportionately attracted to food and beverage websites: Unhealthy Food Marketing Targets Hispanic Youth, UConn Researchers Find. Co-authored by former Rudd Center Research Associate Maia Hyary, a PhD student at the Heller School at Brandeis University and a former Rudd Center Research Associate, and Marketing Initiatives Director Jennifer Harris, the study was published in the inaugural issue of the journal Health Equity.

PR Newswire/US Newswire published a nationally distributed Oct. 3 release that cited our Wellness School Assessment Tool, WellSAT 2.0: Urban School Health and Wellness Leaders Address Issues of Health and Education Equity.

The New York Times on Oct 13 redistributed an earlier article on a study on weight bias by Dr. Puhl: Fat Bias Starts Early and Takes a Serious Toll.

News to Chew On

Khaleej Times (India)
Taxes on sugary drinks are good, but just not enough
The Philadelphia Tribune
Food and race discussion, dinner serves up healthy ideas for Blacks
Los Angeles Times
Nearly 4 in 10 U.S. adults are now obese, CDC says
Chicago Tribune
UK hospitals ban chocolate bars and limit calories
How Foods Labeled 'Healthy' Can Still Make You Fat
Cereal cafes growing in popularity throughout Europe
Colorado Hometown Weekly
Lafayette bars restaurants from putting sugary drinks on children's menus