Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Suzanne Mazzeo

Second Advisor

Eric Benotsch

Third Advisor

Sarah Jane Brubaker


Public health campaigns might not be universally helpful and could have detrimental consequences. The current investigation explored the effects of obesity prevention campaigns. Their impact was assessed using an experiment in which participants were randomized to view either weight focused obesity prevention campaigns or obesity prevention campaigns that did not use weight related terms. Results demonstrated that compared with campaigns without weight related terminology, weight focused campaigns increased negative perceptions of obesity and decreased self-efficacy for health behavior change. No differences in body satisfaction, thin-ideal internalization, state anxiety, or frequency of positive health behaviors were found based on the type of campaign viewed. Finally, exposure to both types of campaigns increased internalization of the thin-ideal. This study demonstrates that weight focused prevention messages pose serious public health consequences. Obesity prevention campaigns should refrain from using weight-related terminology and instead emphasize the positive health consequences of a healthy diet and physical activity.


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