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Obesity topics on social media mostly generate negative sentiments, study finds.

A study presented at the upcoming European Congress on Obesity has found that tweets about obesity are mostly negative. Researchers in Switzerland and the UK analysed 25,580 tweets about obesity posted between December 2019 and December 2021, finding that 72.97% represented negative sentiments, followed by neutral (18.78%) and positive (8.25%). The tweets covered a range of topics including childhood obesity, COVID-19 vaccination, racism and high obesity rates among minorities, smoking, illicit substance use, and alcohol consumption among people with obesity, environmental risk factors for obesity, polycystic ovary syndrome, and surgical treatments.

“Obesity can lead to serious physical, mental, and social health problems and its prevalence is increasing worldwide among people of all age groups,” said researcher Dr Jorge Correia. The team also identified spikes in Twitter activity related to political events such as Nancy Pelosi’s comments on Donald Trump being “morbidly obese,” with 94% of the 1,003 tweets posted on the topic being negative in sentiment. Negative tweets also often talked about increased hospitalizations and death due to Covid-19 among people with obesity and about how people living with obesity are responsible for their weight. “The negative portrayal of obesity by influential politicians and celebrities may increase stigma against people living with obesity, and also harm public health by spreading misinformation,” Dr Correia said.


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