ABSTRACT

Media analysis has long been at the center of the social scientific study of social problems (Gitlin 1980, Epstein 1996). For decades, sociologists and others have recognized that the media in its various forms is critical not only to how we learn about various social problems, but also to the very construction of these problems. In other words, the media does not simply reflect the existence of social phenomena, it creates them. Scholars of health and illness have extended this focus on media construction to areas of health, medicine, and science, looking at the ways in which our perceptions and experience of health are shaped by what we learn about health from media in its varied forms (Epstein 1996; Lupton 1999). Only in recent years have scholars turned this critical gaze on the place of the media in the social construction of the obesity epidemic.