With increasing rates of obesity and obesity-related health problems, recent years have seen a great deal of effort exerted to improve physical health by reducing obesity. While information about health is frequently communicated through news media, research has shown that news articles do not increase knowledge of physical health behaviors and instead increase weight stigma, which predicts decreased physical and mental health. Given that this method of presenting health information is ineffective and harmful, it is important to examine alternative ways to frame information on physical health behaviors. This study examined differential effects of three article types, Health Improvement, Weight Loss, or Control on health behavior knowledge, anti-fat attitudes, and health locus of control. Protestant work ethic, ethnicity, and BMI were also explored as moderators in the relationship between type of article and change in anti-fat attitudes. Participants were recruited from the subject pool at a university in Southern California and by posts on the social media site Reddit.com. The final sample size of 124 was 62.1% female, with ages ranging from 18 to 65 (M = 26.58, SD = 9.82) and a mean BMI of 25.38 (SD = 6.59). The hypotheses were not supported, with no dependent variables changing significantly over time and type of article not showing a significant effect on change in the dependent variables, all p > .05. While the covariates did predict anti-fat attitudes overall (all p < .01), no interactions between the covariates and the main effects were significant. These results are not in line with previous research, which is likely due to factors such as small sample size, measurement differences, and study design limitations. To our knowledge, this is the first study to examine the effects of news articles on increasing health behavior knowledge and health locus of control in addition to decreasing weight stigma. Future studies would benefit from increased sample size. In addition, it would be helpful to alter published news articles to reduce the differences between articles and include specific information on health knowledge that was examined by the measures; this would prevent the inclusion of additional confounds.

LLU Discipline

Clinical Psychology




School of Behavioral Health

First Advisor

Herbozo, Sylvia

Second Advisor

Aréchiga, Adam L.

Third Advisor

Morrell, Holly E. R.

Fourth Advisor

Stinnett, Randy

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Obesity - Prevention & Control; Obesity - Psychology; Obesity - Therapy; Risk Factors; Health Behavior

Subject - Local

Weight Stigmatization; Anti-fat attitudes; Media effects; Health Knowledge



Page Count


Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives