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Newspaper media framing of obesity during pregnancy in the UK: A review and framework synthesis

Heslehurst, Nicola; Evans, Elizabeth H.; Incollingo Rodriguez, Angela C.; Nagpal, Taniya S.; Visram, Shelina

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Nicola Heslehurst

Angela C. Incollingo Rodriguez

Taniya S. Nagpal

Shelina Visram


Two thirds of women report experiencing weight stigma during pregnancy. Newspaper media is powerful in framing health issues. This review synthesized UK newspaper media portrayal of maternal obesity. NexisUni was searched to identify newspaper articles, published January 2010 to May 2021, reporting content on obesity during pregnancy. Framework synthesis integrated quantitative and qualitative analysis of the content of articles. There were 442 articles included (59% tabloids and 41% broadsheets). Three overarching themes with interacting sub-themes were as follows: (1) Women were blamed for their weight, risks, and NHS impact. (2) Women were solely responsible for solving obesity, gendered from school age. (3) Women with obesity were a burden on individuals (e.g., themselves, their children, and health professionals), to society, and the NHS. Catastrophizing language framed the “problem,” “scale,” and “public health concern” of maternal obesity, emphasizing risk, and danger and was alarmist, aggressive, and violent as to elicit fear or devalue women. Articles platformed ‘expert’ voices rather than women's lived experiences. This review identified that UK newspaper media negatively frames and oversimplifies the topic of maternal obesity. Exposure to blaming and alarmist messaging could increase women's guilt, stigma, and internalized weight bias. The newspaper media should be harnessed to de-stigmatize maternal obesity and promote maternal well-being.


Heslehurst, N., Evans, E. H., Incollingo Rodriguez, A. C., Nagpal, T. S., & Visram, S. (2022). Newspaper media framing of obesity during pregnancy in the UK: A review and framework synthesis. Obesity Reviews, 23(12),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 5, 2022
Online Publication Date Nov 10, 2022
Publication Date 2022-12
Deposit Date Jan 16, 2023
Publicly Available Date Mar 28, 2023
Journal Obesity Reviews
Print ISSN 1467-7881
Electronic ISSN 1467-789X
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 23
Issue 12


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Copyright Statement
Advance online version This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes.

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