Men and the War on Obesity
A Sociological Study
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Is obesity really a public health problem and what does the construction of obesity as a health problem mean for men?
According to official statistics, the majority of men in nations such as England and the USA are overweight or obese. Public health officials, researchers, governments and various agencies are alarmed and have issued dire warnings about a global ‘obesity epidemic’. This perceived threat to public health seemingly legitimates declarations of war against what one US Surgeon General called ‘the terror within’. Yet, little is known about weight-related issues among everyday men in this context of symbolic or communicated violence.
Men and the War on Obesity is an original, timely and controversial study. Using observations from a mixed-sex slimming club, interviews with men whom medicine might label overweight or obese and other sources, this study urges a rethink of weight or fat as a public health issue and sometimes private trouble. Recognizing the sociological wisdom that things are not as they seem, it challenges obesity warmongering and the many battles it mandates or incites. This important book could therefore help to change current thinking and practices not only in relation to men but also women and children who are defined as overweight, obese or too fat. It will be of interest to students and researchers of gender and the body within sociology, gender studies and cultural studies as well as public health researchers, policymakers and practitioners.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction: Beyond Militarized Medicine 2. Bodily Alignment and Accounts: From Excuses to Repudiation 3. Smoking Guns, Wartime Injury and Survival: Men and Dieting 4. McDonaldizing Men’s Bodies? Rationalization, Irrationalities and Resistances 5. Physical Activity and Obesity Fighting Campaigns: Men’s Critical Talk 6. Conclusion: Social Fitness and Health at Every Size
Lee F. Monaghan is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Limerick, Ireland.
"This book is an important contribution to debate and should be required reading for policy makers and health professionals in the obesity business."
Professor Chris Shilling, University of Kent, UK
"Thoroughly researched and skilfully written, Lee Monaghan's study of men's slimming draws attention to the long-ignored challenges that men face in the context of body weight and size. It is an excellent contribution to social scientific studies of embodiment, masculinity and narrative accounts. Indeed, it fills a glaring gap in the existing literature."
Dr Debra Gimlin, University of Aberdeen, UK
"Lee Monaghan brings to bear the sort of critical sociological perspective on the war on fat that has been a hallmark of the best gender studies, but which has to this point been largely absent from discussions of "obesity". This book asks and helps answer a fascinating and important question: What does it mean, in contemporary Western society, to be a man who risks being stigmatized as overweight, obese or too fat?"
Professor Paul Campos, University of Colorado, USA