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Understanding fatness in the public sphere of young students: social representations and emotional response

Entendiendo la gordura en la esfera pública de estudiantes jóvenes: representaciones sociales y respuesta emocional

Entendendo a gordura no universo público dos jovens: representações sociais e resposta emocional

This study examines how youth collectively represent fatness and determines the emotions it arouses. Understanding how fatness is socially constructed by young people is crucial to create programs that better deal with it. A free association exercise elicited by the word “fatness” was answered by 200 people of the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country (Spain), and the content was analyzed by its lexicon using Alceste software. The results showed that health-related representation of fatness was mostly descriptive, and it was not connected to risky or any emotional response. But fatness was also completely represented as a social pressure issue related to stigmatization and highly correlated with negative emotions, such as sadness, insecurity, embarrassment, anguish, lonesomeness, pity or anger. That is, risky and negative emotions were linked to social non-acceptance, and not with health problems. Thus, the conclusion is that fatness is transmitted from fear and not from a positive construction of the health.

Emotions; Obesity; Body Weight; Young Adult

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