1st Edition

Rethinking Obesity Critical Perspectives in Crisis Times

    300 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    300 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Theoretically informed and empirically grounded, Rethinking Obesity invites readers to reconsider the medical and public health framing of population weight (gain) as a massive global problem, epidemic or crisis. Attentive to social values, scientific uncertainty and possible harms, the book furthers critique of the weight-centred health paradigm and world war on obesity. Building upon existing international literature from critical weight studies, fat studies and critical obesity research, the book advances scholarship with reference to body politics and health policy, epidemiology and obesity science, media reporting and weight-related stigma.

    The authors resist the common moralised narrative that ‘the overweight majority’ are lazy, gluttonous, and personally responsible for their actual or potential ills and the solution ultimately necessitates individual lifestyle change. Critique is also extended to seemingly compassionate public health interventions that putatively avoid victim-blaming through an appeal to ‘the obesogenic environment’, a consequence of modern living. Empirical case studies are grounded in women’s repeated and often frustrating experiences of dieting and schoolgirls’ encounters with fat pedagogy, which challenges dominant obesity discourse. Recognising that declared public health crises may become layered and cascade through society, this book also includes timely research on the COVID-19 pandemic response amidst concerns about lockdown weight-gain, heightened risk of infection and death among people deemed overweight and obese.

    Rethinking Obesity interrogates how social injustice is reproduced not only through cruelty but also through seemingly benevolent representations, pedagogies and policies. Alternative approaches and action, ranging from weight-inclusive health paradigms to broader social change, are also considered when seeking to foster collective hope in crisis times. This is valuable reading for students and researchers in medical sociology, social and population health sciences, physical education, critical weight and fat studies, and the social dimensions of the body.

    List of Tables

    List of Abbreviations

    Series Editors’ Preface



              Part 1: The Politics of a ‘Public Health Problem’

    1. The Global Obesity Crisis: Situating Critique in a Broader Context
    2. Critical Perspectives: Key Themes and Meta-Critique
    3. Pedagogising Obesity Knowledges and the Recontextualisation of Policy
    4. Part 2: Researching Matters of Fat

    5. Obesity, Bodily Change and Health Identities: A Study of Canadian Women
    6. Exploring Fat Pedagogy and Critical Health Education with Schoolgirls: Rethinking ‘Britain’s Child Obesity Disgrace’
    7. Degrading Bodies in Pandemic Times: Politicising Cruelty during the COVID-19 and Obesity Crises
    8. Part 3: Critically Exploring Alternatives, Fostering Collective Hope

    9. Tired of Diets? From HAES® to a More Radical Approach
    10. Rethinking Obesity in the (Post) COVID Society: Paving the Way for More ‘Rounded’ Knowledge and Collective Action

    Epilogue: Resist TINA, Recognise TARA




    Lee F. Monaghan is Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Limerick, Ireland. His research and teaching largely fall within the areas of medical sociology and sociological theory. Besides advancing critical weight studies, Lee has published qualitative research on drug use among bodybuilders, physical violence in the night-time leisure economy, chronic illness among children and the embodiment of masculinities and heterosexualities.

    Emma Rich is Professor of Physical Activity and Health Pedagogy, University of Bath, UK. Her research examines sport, physical activity and physical/health education from critical/socio-cultural perspectives. Working across sociology and education, her work around critical pedagogies of health and physical education has informed research projects addressing obesity policy, health education in schools, eating disorders and digital health technologies.

    Andrea E. Bombak is currently Assistant Professor, University of New Brunswick, Canada. She is a social and population health scientist who leads provincially and federally funded studies on intersectional health inequities, weight stigmatisation and post-secondary food pedagogies.