Term of Award

Summer 2008

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Department

Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading

Committee Chair

Rosemarie Stallworth-Clark

Committee Member 1

William Reynolds

Committee Member 2

Marlynn Griffin

Committee Member 3

Joanne Chopak-Foss

Abstract

This dissertation study investigated the cultural influences and oppressive effects of obesity among 10 highly visible adults in contemporary USA media. The following research questions guided the study: (a) What are the influential cultural factors affecting the increase of obesity in the USA? (b) What are the oppressive effects of contemporary cultural biases perpetuated toward overweight/obese/fat people in the USA? Participant characteristics assumed to indicate the cultural factors of influence on the development of obesity as well as the lived experiences of oppression were identified through the analysis of participant responses to constructed interview questions. The following cultural studies tenets guided the construction of the questions: (a) articulation; (b) hegemony; (c) ideology; and (d) representation. Phenomenological analyses indicated that there are multiple cultural factors that influence the development of obesity and that the lived experience of oppression is common among those who are obese, regardless of race, socioeconomic status, or gender. The study indicated that the oppression of obesity began early in the participants lives and continued into adulthood, at home, at school, and in the workplace. The analyses also revealed that the study participants were vulnerable to the effects of key cultural factors that affect the development of obesity in contemporary society. Specifically, these influences include the following: (a) misleading advertising; (b) sedentary lifestyles; and (c) increased consumption of processed foods.

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