International Journal of Management, Economics and Social Sciences
Special Issue-International Conference on Medical and Health Informatics (ICMHI 2017)
2018, Vol. 7(S1), pp. 40 – 57.
ISSN 2304 – 1366


A Qualitative Study of Obesity Perceptions in Social Media through Twitter's Tweets


I-Chi Chen 1
Hui-Fuang Ng 2
Li-Rou Chua 3
Mun-Yee Loo 3
Paik-Kei Wong 3
Kim-Teng Chow 3
1Faculty of Business and Finance, Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman, Kampar, Malaysia
2Faculty of Information and Communication Technology, Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman, Kampar, Malaysia
3Department of Marketing, Faculty of Business and Finance, Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman, Kampar, Malaysia



This qualitative study applied Q methodology to explore general public's perception, attitude and behavior toward obesity and overweight using Twitter's tweets. A total of 76 statements extracted from Twitter status updates mentioning 'obesity' and 'overweight' were selected as the Q-statements. Twenty-one participants attended the sorting process and completed the Q sorts. Factor analysis was then applied on the Q sorts to extract meaningful factors. Three significant factors emerged from a factor analysis of the Q sorts, including obesity stigmatization, causes of obesity, and positive attitude and sentiment toward obesity. The results reveal pervasive negative stereotypes, alienations, and negative attitude toward overweight and obesity. The findings suggest that social media can actually reinforce body satisfaction perception, selfefficacy and stained health behavior. Most importantly, obesity prevention at the individual level should focus on an individual's behavioral change and at the society level requires careful and comprehensive presentation of the issue to the public.

Keywords: Obesity, Social media, Health promotion, Qualitative methods, twitter