Workshop announcement: Obesity, eating disorders, and the media (Oxford, Nov 9)

Obesity, eating disorders, and the media: An interdisciplinary workshop

Wednesday 9 November 2011, 9.30am-5.30pm

St Anne’s College, University of Oxford


The rising global prevalence of obesity and eating disorders can be considered one of the top public health challenges of the 21st century. With the large volume of recent scientific research on these conditions, and the increasing number of public health policies directed at their prevention, significant new information concerning obesity and eating disorders is emerging with great frequency. Only a small selection of this new information, however, crosses from the science and policy realms into the public sphere. Here, the news media play a crucial role. Lay concepts regarding the prevention, causation, and management of obesity and eating disorders are now largely informed by news media sources, where health information is communicated to the public with ever-growing immediacy, accessibility, and ubiquity.

Considering the news media’s potential influence on people’s health behaviours and lifestyle choices, the Unit for Biocultural Variation and Obesity is exploring the rationale and modes of representation guiding the media’s reporting on obesity and eating disorders. This workshop aims to establish the state of the science and define best practices in utilizing digital methods to research the news media. Bringing together leading experts on obesity, eating disorders, and media studies from the UK and the US, this workshop is the first to offer a comprehensive examination of the media’s representations of obesity and eating disorders, as well as the first to explore the application of new digital humanities research methods to this field. It promises to engender innovative and collaborative research, and produce substantial new analyses of the media’s role in bridging science and the public.


  • Professor Stanley Ulijaszek, Dr Karin Eli, Professor David Zeitlyn (School of Anthropology, University of Oxford)

Speakers include

  •  Professor Clive Seale (Queen Mary, University of London)
  • Ms Anna Lavis (Goldsmiths, University of London)
  • Dr Paula Saukko (Loughborough University)
  • Dr Helen Malson (University of the West of England)
  • Dr Megan Warin (University of Adelaide, Australia)
  • Dr Natalie Boero (San Jose State University, USA)
  • Mr John McNaught (National Centre for Text Mining [NaCTeM], Manchester)
  • Ms Vivienne Parry, OBE (Science writer and broadcaster)


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