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Books of Interest

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Das M & Bose K (2019) Obesity and Syndrome X. A Golabl Public Health Burden. Nova.
This book assembles current knowledge on obesity and syndrome X, presenting it in a form that can translate into tools for improved diagnosis, intervention and prevention of these globally important public health burdens.
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Schneider T, Eli K, Dolan C, Ulijaszek S (2018) Digital Food Activism. London: Routledge.
Digital Food Activism investigates how digital media technologies are transforming food activism and consumers' engagements with food, eating, and food systems. Bringing together critical food studies, economic anthropology, digital sociology, and science and technology studies, Digital Food Activism offers innovative multi-disciplinary analyses of food activist practices on social media, mobile apps, and hybrid online and offline alternative spaces. With chapters that focus on diverse digital platforms, food-related issues, and geographic locales, this volume reveals how platforms, programmers, and consumers are becoming key mediators of the mandate of food corporations and official governing actors. Digital Food Activism thereby suggests that emerging forms of activism in the digital era hold the potential to reshape the ethics, aesthetics, and patterns of food consumption.
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Warin M & Zivkovic T (2019) Fatness, Obesity and Disadvantage in the Australian Suburbs. Palgrave Macmillan.
This is a detailed and insightful ethnographic account of how fatness and obesity are constructed as problems among people living in circumstances of disadvantage in suburban Australia. The authors show how and why a well-meaning programme promoting healthy eating in France was lost in translation in Australia. While there is ample evidence about obesity prevalence and an abundance of information about what and how to eat, obesity remains ‘a problem’ in high-income countries such as Australia. Rather than rely on common assumptions that people are making all the wrong choices, this volume reveals the challenges of eating healthily when money is scarce and how living with body fatness happens in everyday worlds of precarity. Without acknowledgement of the multiple realities of fatness and obesity, interventions will continue to have limited reach.
hear more from Megan Warin
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Clinton C & Sridhar D (2017) Governing Global Health. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Chelsea Clinton and Devi Sridhar give a thorough and even-handed empirical analysis of global health organizations. They present the first ever analysis of the ways that public-private partnerships operate in this sphere, and consider how they might increase their already considerable effectiveness.
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Ulijaszek S (2017) Models of Obesity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
This book investigates how obesity and its susceptibilities are framed in science and policy, and how they might work better. Many of the models that have emerged since obesity became a population-level issue are examined. Employing the framework of rationalities, the author examines how models are used to examine and understand human body fatness from a range of perspectives, including evolutionary, anthropological, environmental and politicaal viewpoints.
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Abbots E-J & Lavis A (2016) Why We Eat, How We Eat. London: Routledge.
Why We Eat, How We Eat maps new ways of thinking about relations between bodies and foods. With the central premise that food is both symbolic and material, the volume explores the intersections of current critical debates regarding how individuals eat and why they eat. Through a wide-ranging series of case studies it examines how foods and bodies both haphazardly encounter, and actively engage with, one another in ways that are simultaneously material, social, and political.
hear more from Emma-Jayne Abbots
 
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Eli K & Ulijaszek S (2016) Obesity, Eating Disorders and the Media. London: Routledge. 

How do the media represent obesity and eating disorders? How are these representations related to one another? And how do the news media select which scientific findings and policy decisions to report? Multi-disciplinary in approach, Obesity, Eating Disorders and the Media presents critical new perspectives on media representations of obesity and eating disorders, with analyses of print, online, and televisual media framings. Exploring abjection and alarm as the common themes linking media framings of obesity and eating disorders, Obesity, Eating Disorders and the Media shows how the media similarly position these conditions as dangerous extremes of body size and food practice. The volume then investigates how news media selectively cover and represent science and policy concerning obesity and eating disorders, with close attention to the influence of pre-existing framings alongside institutional and moral agendas. A rich, comprehensive analysis of media framings of obesity and eating disorders - as embodied conditions, complex disorders, public health concerns, and culturally significant phenomena - this volume will be of interest to scholars and students across the social sciences and all those interested in understanding cultural aspects of obesity and eating disorders.

Hear more from Karin Eli

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Komlos J & Kelly I (2016) The Oxford Handbook of Economics and Human Biology. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 
This book provides an extensive overview of how economic conditions affect human well-being and how human health influences economic outcomes. Among the topics explored are how variations in height, whether over time, among different socio-economic groups, and in different locations, are important indicators of changes in economic growth and economic development, levels of economic inequality, and economic opportunities for individuals. Among the issues addressed are how height, body mass index (BMI), and obesity can affect and are affected by productivity, wages, and wealth. How family environment affects health and well-being is examined, as is the importance of both pre-birth and early childhood conditions for subsequent economic outcomes. Reflecting this dynamic and expanding area of research, the volume shows that well-being is a salient aspect of economics, and the new toolkit of evidence from biological living standards enhances understanding of industrialization, commercialization, income distribution, the organization of health care, social status, and the redistributive state affect such human attributes as physical stature, weight, and the obesity epidemic in historical and contemporary populations.
Hear more from John Komlos
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Shugart H (2016) Heavy. The Obesity Crisis in Cultural Context. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

 

This book interrogates why obesity campaigns have failed and are failing, argues that there is a disconnect between official campaigns and cultural understandings of obesity, and places the contemporary instability regarding what obesity is (and why it is) in political economic context.

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Lavis A, Abbots E-J, Attala L (2016) Careful Eating: Bodies, Food and Care. London: Routledge.

Critically reflecting on the interplays between food and care, this multidisciplinary volume asks ’why do individuals, institutions and agencies care about what other people eat?’ It explores how acts of caring about food and eating shape and intervene in individual bodies as well as being enacted in and through those bodies. In so doing, the volume extends current critical debates regarding food and care as political mechanisms through which social hierarchies are constructed and both self and 'other' (re)produced. Addressing the ways in which eating and caring interact on multiple scales and sites - from public health and clinical settings to the market, the home and online communities - Careful Eating asks what ’eating’ and ’caring’ are, what relationships they create and rupture, and how their interplay is experienced in myriad spaces of everyday life. Taking account of this two-directional flow of engagement between eating and caring, the chapters are organized into three central theoretical dimensions: how eating practices mobilize discourses and forms of care; how discourses and practices of care (look to) shape particular forms of eating and food preferences; and how it is often in the bodies of individual consumers that eating and care encounter one another.

Hear more from Anna Lavis

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Alemanno A & Garde A (2014) Regulating Lifestyle Risks. The EU, alcohol, tobacco and unhealthy diets. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
 
This book looks at the role the European Union could and should play in promoting healthier lifestyle, in light of the moral, philosophical, legal and political challenges associated with the regulation of individual choices. By tackling the main non-communicable diseases (NCD) risk factors (tobacco consumption, harmful use of alcohol, unhealthy diets and lack of physical activity), the contributors endeavour to identify common themes and determine whether and, if so, to what extent the lessons learned in relation to each area of EU intervention could be transposed to the others. By focusing on the European Union legal order, the book highlights both the opportunities that legal instruments offer for NCD prevention and control agenda in Europe, as well as the constraints that the law imposes on policy-makers.
Hear more from Amandine Garde
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Offer A, Pechey R, Ulijaszek S (2012) Insecurity, Inequality, and Obesity in Affluent Societies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
During the last three decades, obesity has emerged as a big public health issue in affluent societies. A number of academic and policy approaches have been taken, none of which has been very effective. Most of the academic research, whether biological, epidemiological, social-scientific, or in the humanities, has focused on the individual, and on his or her response to external incentives.

The point of departure taken here is that institutions matter a great deal too, and especially the normative environment of the nation state. In brief, the argument is that obesity is a response to stress, and that some types of welfare regimes are more stressful than others. English-speaking market-liberal societies have higher levels of obesity, and also higher levels of labour and product market competition, which induce uncertainty and anxiety. The studies presented here investigate this hypothesis, utilising a variety of disciplines, and the concluding contribution by the editors presents strong statistical evidence for its validity at the aggregate level. The hypothesis has an important bearing on public health policy and, indirectly, on economic policy more generally. It indicates that important drivers of obesity arise from the interaction between the external 'shock' of falling food prices and the enduring normative assumptions that govern society as a whole.

If obesity is determined in part by inflexible norms and institutions, it may not be easy to counter it by focused interventions. Distinctive societal policy norms like an attachment to individualism (which national communities embrace with some conviction) may have harmful social spillovers which are rarely taken into account.
Hear more from Avner Offer
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Warin M (2009) Abject Relations: Everyday Worlds of Anorexia. Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press.

Through detailed ethnographic investigations, Megan Warin looks at the heart of what it means to live with anorexia on a daily basis. Participants describe difficulties with social relatedness, not being at home in their body, and feeling disgusting and worthless. For them, anorexia becomes a seductive and empowering practice that cleanses bodies of shame and guilt, becomes a friend and support, and allows them to forge new social relations.

Unraveling anorexia's complex relationships and contradictions, Warin provides a new theoretical perspective rooted in a socio-cultural context of bodies and gender. Abject Relations departs from conventional psychotherapy approaches and offers a different "logic," one that involves the shifting forces of power, disgust, and desire and provides new ways of thinking that may have implications for future treatment regimes.

Hear more from Megan Warin

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Garde A (2010) EU Law and Obesity Prevention. Wolters Kluwer.
This is the first book to offer an in-depth legal analysis of obesity prevention, with particular reference to Europe. It describes what the EU has done and could do to support Member States in fighting the obesity epidemic, and clearly shows the way to locating advocacy strategies within the framework of EU law. The thorough analysis includes a discussion of the following issues: the need to address nutrition and physical activity as important health determinants; the emphasis traditionally placed at EU level on food safety rather than food quality; the need for the development of databases on nutrition and physical activity, comparable common indicators and risk assessment mechanisms; mainstreaming public health into all EU policies; the scope of EU powers in the case law of the Court of Justice; the role of information in the EU’s obesity prevention strategy; the Commission’s proposed Mandatory Nutrition Declaration; the Food Claims Regulation; the regulation of food marketing to children, and in particular the role of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive, the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive and industry self-regulation; food reformulation; the use of economic instruments in the EU’s obesity prevention strategy, with an emphasis on the Common Agricultural Policy and the EU’s taxation policy; and EU action in the fields of sport, occupational health and safety, and transport policy.he purpose of this volume is to accurately and conveniently summarize the findings and insights of obesity-related research from a range of social sciences, including anthropology, economics, government, psychology, and sociology. The book explains how different social sciences model obesity-related behaviours, synthesizes social science research on specific causes, correlates and consequences of obesity, and reviews the social science literature on obesity treatment and prevention.
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Rich E, Monaghan LP, Aphramor L (2010) Debating Obesity. Palgrave MacMillan.

This book brings together critical perspectives on some of the recent claims associated with the rise in obesity rates. It develops both theoretical and conceptual arguments which surround the obesity debate, develops an agenda for  critical weight studies.

Hear more from Emma Rich

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