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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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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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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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Jensen T, Nyvang C, Scholliers P, Atkins PJ (2019) Food and Age in Europe, 1800-2000. London: Routledge.

People eat and drink very differently throughout their life. Each stage has diets with specific ingredients, preparations, palates, meanings and settings. Moreover, physicians, authorities and general observers have particular views on what and how to eat according to age. All this has changed frequently during the previous two centuries. Infant feeding has for a long time attracted historical attention, but interest in the diets of youngsters, adults of various ages, and elderly people hasdissolved into more general food historiography. This volume puts age and the life course on the agenda of food history by focusing on the diversity in, and change of diets across the lifespan.

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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

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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Bruzzi S & Gibson PC (2013) Fashion Cultures Revisited. Theories, Explorations and Analysis. London: Routledge.

Fashion cultures revisited explores every aspect of contemporary fashion culture, from shopping, fashion spaces and globalisation, to changing imagery in the context of changing media, new modes of productio, contestation, compliance, feminisms and masculinities. What we wear shapes our bodies and how we are seen.
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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
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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Kwint M & Wingate R (2012) Brains: Mind as Matter. London: Profile Books.
The brain is a unique and enigmatic organ. It cannot be transplanted, and is one of the most complex entities in the known universe. Unusually, this book asks not what our brains do for us, but what we have done to brains, following the long quest to manipulate and decipher this most exceptional of human organs.
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Ulijaszek SJ (2005) Human Energetics in Biological Anthropology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Many aspects of human activity involve energy transfer of some type. Human Energetics in Biological Anthropology examines some of the ways in which measurements of energy intake, expenditure and balance have been used to study human populations by biological anthropologists and human biologists. The book provides an integration of human adaptation and adaptability approaches, placing these issues in an ecological context by considering traditional subsistence economies in the Global South. 

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Offer A (2006) The Challenge of Affluence. Self-Control and Well-Being in the United States and Britain since 1950. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Since the 1940s Americans and Britons have come to enjoy an era of rising material abundance. Yet this has been accompanied by a range of social and personal disorders, including family breakdown, addiction, mental instability, crime, obesity, inequality, economic insecurity, and declining trust. Avner Offer argues that well-being has lagged behind affluence in these societies, because they present an environment in which consistent choices are difficult to achieve over different time ranges and in which the capacity for personal and social commitment is undermined by the flow of novelty. His approach draws on economics and social science, makes use of the latest cognitive research, and provides a detailed and reasoned critique of modern consumer society, especially the assumption that freedom of choice necessarily maximizes individual and social well-being. 

Lustig, RH (2013) Fat chance: the bitter truth about sugar. London: Fourth Estate.

‘Fat Chance’, documents the science and the politics that has led to the pandemic of metabolic syndrome – which results in conditions like obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Dr Robert Lustig exposes how changes in the food industry and in our wider environment have affected our collective metabolisms and our waistlines, and he shows how industry and political forces, motivated by greed, don’t want things to change.

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Harcombe Z (2010) The obesity epidemic: What caused it?How can we stop it? Caldicot: Columbus Publishing Limited.

A comprehensive and engaging investigation of research evidence that helps to respond to the two questions in the title of the book. The volune is aimed at a general readership which calls into question popular diet and health advice, as well as the popular assumption that energy balance is at the core of obesogenesis.

Shove E, Trentmann F, Wilk R (eds) (2009) Time, consumption and everyday life: practice, materiality and culture. Oxford: Berg.

This book examines the changing rhythms and temporal organization of everyday life. How do people handle hurriedness, burn-out and stress? Are slower forms of consumption viable? This volume brings together international experts from geography, sociology, history, anthropology and philosophy. In case studies covering the United States, Asia, and Europe, contributors follow routines and rhythms, their emotional and political dynamics, and show how they are anchored in material culture and everyday practice. Running themes of the book are questions of coordination and disruption; cycles and seasons; and, the interplay between power and freedom, and between material and natural forces. The result is a volume that brings studies of practice, temporality and material culture together to open up a new intellectual agenda.

Popkin B (2010) The World is Fat: the fads, trends, policies, and products that are fattening the human race. New York: Avery.

In this look at the striking changes in both our lifestyles and food system since World War II, Barry Popkin shows how present options for eating and drinking, especially when combined with a dramatic reduction in physical activity, are clashing with millions of years of evolution to fatten the human race. Popkin argues that widespread obesity, and the chronic health problems that contribute to the bulk of deaths in the world today, is less a result of poor dietary choices than about a hi-tech, interconnected world in which governments and multinational corporations have extraordinary power to shape our everyday lives.

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Steel C (2008) Hungry City: how food shapes our lives. London: Vintage.

The relationship between food and cities is fundamental to our every day lives. Food shapes cities, and through them, it moulds us – along with the countryside that feeds us. The gargantuan effort necessary to feed cities arguably has a greater social and physical impact on us and our planet than anything else we do. Yet few of us are conscious of the process and we rarely stop to wonder how food reaches our plates.Hungry City examines the way in which modern food production has damaged the balance of human existence, and reveals that we have yet to resolve a centuries-old dilemma – one which holds the key to a host of current problems, from obesity, the inexorable rise of the supermarkets, to the destruction of the natural world. Carolyn Steel, an architect, lecturer and writer, follows food on its journey – from the land (and sea) to market and supermarket, kitchen to table, waste-dump and back again – exploring the historical roots and the contemporary issues at each stage of food’s cycle.

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Monaghan LF (2008) Men and the War on Obesity: A sociological study. Abingdon: Routledge.

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.

Parasecoli F (2008) Bite Me: food in popular culture. Oxford: Berg.

Food is not only something we eat, it is something we use to define ourselves. Ingestion and incorporation are central to our connection with the world outside our bodies. Food’s powerful social, economic, political and symbolic roles cannot be ignored – what we eat is a marker of power, cultural capital, class, ethnic and racial identity. Bite Me considers the ways in which popular culture reveals our relationship with food and our own bodies and how these have become an arena for political and ideological battles. Drawing on an extraordinary range of material – films, books, comics, songs, music videos, websites, slang, performances, advertising and mass-produced objects – Bite Me invites the reader to take a fresh look at today’s products and practices to see how much food shapes our lives, perceptions and identities.

Hear more from Fabio Parasecoli

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Delpeuch F, Maire B, Monnier E, Holdsworth M (2009) Globesity: A planet out of control? London: Earthscan.

Obesity represents one of the major global health challenges of the 21st century. Its occurrence has now reached epidemic proportions, not only in industrialized nations, but increasingly in less developed countries too. Written by world-leading specialists in public health nutrition, Globesity cuts straight to the underlying nature and causes of this devastating trend. It shows that the causes of obesity are primarily socio-economic and the result of a distorted agricultural and food production and supply system. To address this problem, we must learn how to better manage the physical, social and economic environment rather than simply focusing on individual lifestyle choices. The authors draw startling parallels between the obesity crisis and climate change, both of which are characterized by the over-consumption of increasingly scarce resources and require radical, urgent and sustainable solutions. The authors argue that if we are to deal with the twin crises of our climate and our waistlines, action must be taken now. 

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Patel R (2007) Stuffed and Starved: from farm to fork, the hidden battle for the world food system. London: Portobello.

It’s a perverse fact of modern life: There are more starving people in the world than ever before (800 million) while there are also more people overweight (1 billion). To find out how we got to this point and what we can do about it, Raj Patel launched a comprehensive investigation into the global food network. It took him from the colossal supermarkets of California to India’s wrecked paddy-fields and Africa’s bankrupt coffee farms, while along the way he ate genetically engineered soy beans and dodged flying objects in the protestor-packed streets of South Korea. What he found was shocking, from the false choices given us by supermarkets to a global epidemic of farmer suicides, and real reasons for famine in Asia and Africa. Yet he also found great cause for hope – in international resistance movements working to create a more democratic, sustainable and joyful food system. Going beyond ethical consumerism, Patel explains, from seed to store to plate, the steps to regain control of the global food economy, stop the exploitation of both farmers and consumers, and rebalance global sustenance.

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Gilman SL (2008) Fat: a cultural history of obesity. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Written as a cultural history, the book is particularly concerned with the cultural meanings that have been attached to obesity over time and explores the implications of these meanings for wider society. In Fat, Gilman looks at the interweaving of fact and fiction about obesity, tracing public concern from the mid-nineteenth century to the modern day global dieting obession. He looks critically at the source of our anxieties about fat, covering issues such as childhood obesity, the production of food, media coverage of the subject and the emergence of obesity in modern China.

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Nutzenadel A & Trentmann F (eds) (2008) Food and Globalization: Consumption, Markets and Politics in the Modern World. Oxford: Berg.

Food has a special significance in the expanding field of global history. Food markets were the first to become globally integrated, linking distant cultures of the world, and in no other area have the interactions between global exchange and local cultural practices been as pronounced as in changing food cultures. In this wide-ranging and fascinating book, the authors provide an historical overview of the relationship between food and globalization in the modern world. Together, the chapters of this book provide a fresh perspective on both global history and food studies. As such, this book will be of interest to a wide range of students and scholars of history, food studies, sociology, anthropology and globalization.

Hear more from Frank Trentmann

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Oliver JE (2006) Fat Politics: The real story behind America’s obesity epidemic. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

It seems almost daily we read newspaper articles and watch news reports exposing the growing epidemic of obesity in America. Our government tells us we are experiencing a major health crisis, with sixty percent of Americans classified as overweight, and one in four as obese. But how valid are these claims? In Fat Politics , J. Eric Oliver shows how a handful of doctors, government bureaucrats, and health researchers, with financial backing from the drug and weight-loss industries, have campaigned to create standards that mislead the public. They mislabel more than sixty million Americans as “overweight,” inflate the health risks of being fat, and promote the idea that obesity is a killer disease. In reviewing the scientific evidence, Oliver shows there is little proof that obesity causes so much disease and death or that losing weight is what makes people healthier. Our concern with obesity, he writes, is fueled more by social prejudice, bureaucratic politics, and industry profit than by scientific fact. Misinformation pushes millions of Americans towards dangerous surgeries, crash diets, and harmful diet drugs, while we ignore other, more real health problems. Oliver goes on to examine why it is that Americans despise fatness and explores why, despite this revulsion, we continue to gain weight. Fat Politics will topple your most basic assumptions about obesity and health. It is essential reading for anyone with a stake in the nation’s–or their own–good health.

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Dixon J & Broom DH (2007) The 7 deadly sins of obesity. How the modern world is making us fat. Sydney: UNSW Press.

In the thirteenth century, Saint Thomas Aquinas identified the seven major sins. These sins, particularly sloth and greed, are now frequently invoked to explain obesity.The Seven Deadly Sins of Obesity argues that the skyrocketing increase in the rate of obesity in Australia (as has also occurred in many Western countries) is not due to morally suspect individuals. Instead it points to a modern society that lacks the virtues necessary for people to adopt and maintain healthy behaviours.The book details seven contemporary sins that contribute to the obesity and overweight epidemic: 1. An obsession with consumption 2. Time pressures 3. Parenting demands 4. Obsessions with technology 5. A reliance on cars 6. The marketing of unhealthy products, and 7. Competing sources of advice. The authors then suggest ways of challenging these sins.

See and hear more from Jane Dixon

Fairburn CG & Brownell KD (eds) (2005) Eating disorders and obesity: a comprehensive handbook. Second edition. Abingdon: Guilford Press.

This handbook presents and integrates much of what is currently known about eating disorders and obesity in one accessible volume of 112 chapters. Contributing authors cover topics ranging from biological, psychological, and social processes associated with risk, to clinical methods for assessment and intervention. The contents are organized to highlight areas of overlap between lines of research that often remain disparate.

Hear more from Kelly Brownell

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Forth CE & Carden-Coyne A (eds) (2005) Cultures of the Abdomen: Diet, Digestion, and Fat in the Modern World. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

We live in a world obsessed with abdomens. Whether we call it the belly, tummy, or stomach, we take this area of the body for granted as an object of our gaze, the subject of our obsessions, and the location of deeply felt desires. Diet, nutrition, and exercise all play critical roles in the development of our body images and thus our sense of self, not least because how we are made to feel about bodies (both our own and those of others) is often grounded in dietary and lifestyle choices. Cultures of the Abdomen traces the history of social, cultural, and medical ideas about the stomach and related organs since the seventeenth century, and demonstrates that a focused study of the abdomen is necessary for understanding the deep historical meanings that underscore our contemporary obsessions with hunger, diet, fat, indigestion, and excretion. It locates that history from dietary ideals in early modern Europe to the vexing issue of American fat in the twenty-first century, surveying along the way developments in Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Russia.

Hear more from Chris Forth 

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Coveney J (2000) Food, Morals and Meaning: The pleasure and anxiety of eating. London: Routledge.

Following on from the success of the first edition, John Coveney traces our complex relationship with food and eating and our preoccupation with diet, self-discipline and food guilt. Using our current fascination with health and nutrition, he explores why our appetite for food pleasures makes us feel anxious. This up-to-date edition includes an examination of how our current obsession with body size, especially fatness, drives a national and international panic about the obesity ‘epidemic’. Focussing on how our food anxieties have stemmed from social, political and religious problems in Western history, “Food Morals and Meaning” looks at: the ancient Greeks’ preoccupation with eating; early Christianity and the conflict between the pleasures of the flesh and spirituality; scientific developments in eighteenth and nineteenth century Europe and our current knowledge of food; the social organization of food in the modern home, based on real interviews; and the obesity ‘epidemic’ and its association with moral degeneration. Based on the work of Michel Foucault, this fresh and updated edition explains how a rationalization food choice – so apparent in current programmes on nutrition and health – can be traced through a genealogy of historical social imperatives and moral panics. “Food, Morals and Meaning” is essential reading for those studying nutrition, public health, sociology of health and illness, and sociology of the body.

Hear more from John Coveney

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