1st Edition

Obesity Discourse and Fat Politics Research, Critique and Interventions

Edited By Lee Monaghan, Rachel Colls, Bethan Evans Copyright 2014

    There is considerable rhetoric and concern about weight and obesity across an increasing range of national contexts. Alarmist claims about an ‘obesity time-bomb’ are continually recycled in policy reports, reviews and white papers, each of which begin with the assumption that fatness is fundamentally unhealthy and damaging to national economies. With contributions from the UK, Canada, the USA and Australia, this book offers alternative critical perspectives on this alleged public health crisis which were, in part, developed through an Economic and Social Research Council seminar series on Fat Studies and Health at Every Size (HAES). Written by scholars from a range of disciplines and the health professions, themes include: an interrogation of statistical procedures used to construct the obesity epidemic, overweight and obesity as cultural signifiers for Type 2 diabetes, understandings of healthy eating and healthy weight in a ‘problem’ population, gendered expectations on men and women to lose weight, the visual representation of obesity, tensions when researching (anti-)fatness, critical dietitians’ engagement with HAES, alternative ways of promoting physical activity, and representations of obesity in the media.

    This book was originally published as a special issue of Critical Public Health.

    1. Obesity discourse and fat politics: research, critique and interventions Lee F. Monaghan, Rachel Colls and Bethan Evans

    2. Fatuous measures: the artifactual construction of the obesity epidemic Julie Guthman

    3. ‘Diabesity’ down under: overweight and obesity as cultural signifiers for type 2 diabetes mellitus Darlene McNaughton

    4. Resisting biopedagogies of obesity in a problem population: understandings of healthy eating and healthy weight in a Newfoundland and Labrador community Deborah McPhail

    5. ‘It’s worse for women and girls’: negotiating embodied masculinities through weight-related talk Lee F. Monaghan and Helen Malson

    6. ‘We’re kind of devolving’: visual tropes of evolution in obesity discourse Francis Ray White

    7. ‘Must I seize every opportunity?’ Complicity, confrontation and the problem of researching (anti-) fatness Karen Throsby and Bethan Evans

    8. Theorizing health at every size as a relational–cultural endeavour Jennifer Brady, Jacqui Gingras and Lucy Aphramor

    9. Public health pedagogy, border crossings and physical activity at every size Louise Mansfield and Emma Rich

    10. Obesity in the media: social science weighs in Natalie Boero


    Lee F. Monaghan is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Limerick, Ireland. His most recent books include Men and the War on Obesity (2008), Debating Obesity: Critical Perspectives (2011, edited with E. Rich and L. Aphramor), and Key Concepts in Medical Sociology (2013, with J. Gabe). 

    Rachel Colls is Senior Lecturer at Durham University, UK. Her interests lie in Feminist poststructuralist theory and Geographies of the body and her research is developing critical geographical approaches to fatness. Her work has included projects on women’s embodied and emotional experiences of clothes shopping, the materialities of fat bodily matter, and fat accepting spaces in the context of Big Girls nights out.

    Bethan Evans is Senior Lecturer in Human Geography at the University of Liverpool, UK. Her research develops critical geographical approaches to fatness based on feminist and poststructural theory. She has particularly published on issues relating to children and young people’s involvement in anti-obesity policy. Bethan led the ESRC seminar series on which this collection is based.