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Opinion PApers

Material objects, performance art or events often inspire animated thought and discussion about a wide range of topics. In this series, various UBVO Fellows, Associates and students are presented with a ‘tool to think’ and an obesity-related topic, and are invited to contribute a short opinion paper linking the two. These papers are intended for a general readership. Please click on the images below to download the papers.

Comments based on any of the papers, or suggestions for future object / topic pairings, are warmly welcomed, and can be emailed to oxfordobesity[at]

giant macarons.jpg

On Capturing the Nostalgia of Sweetness: Sculpting Sugar

Ashley Thuthao Keng Dam 

reacts to Peter Anton's New York exhibition Sugartarium, in which the artist explores our deepest dependence on sugar in an explosively colourful collection of mixed-media sculptures depicting oversized childhood sweets

Click image to download.

Image: Giant macarons


‘4st 7lbs’: Eating Disorders, Between Horror and Survival

Dr Karin Eli draws inspiration from the Manic Street Preachers’ song ’4st   7lbs’, from the album ‘The Holy Bible’, to talk about eating disorders, and   the experience of anorexia. Click image to download.

Image: The album cover features art by Oxford-based artist Jenny Saville, whose daring paintings are known for the mountains of flesh they reveal and for their strong feminist undertones. Her view of the female body is in stark contrast to images of thin women in the mass media to which Eli refers in her paper.


There’s an (branded) App for That!
Branded Mobile Apps and Food Marketing

Associate Professor Teresa Davis describes an encounter she has on a train   with a parent who placates her small child with an iPhone game. It draws her   into thinking about mobile apps and games, which are today almost unregulated   forms of social marketing. Click image to download.

Image: David Hockney x Yves Saint-Laurent
iPad/iPhone art exhibition
Image source: Firestein 2010.


“The Perfect Storm” for Fatty Liver Disease in Hispanics: The Role of Diet, Genes, High Fructose Corn Syrup and Global Trade Policies

Professor Michael Goran’s paper is inspired by the tongue-in-cheek   documentary “KING CORN: You are What You Eat”, a commentary on today’s fast   food nation and the ubiquity of corn in today’s diet in the United State. Click image to download.

More information about King Corn, as well as a short trailer, can be found on the film’s official website.

tanja schneider opinion paper vorwerk th

Digital Eating: #Food Tech and the Changing Values of Eating

Tanja Schneider considers the implications of digital food technologies are affecting food, eating, and the people who eat in the emerging digital food economy. She engages with one specific digital device, the Thermomix, designed by Vorwerk of Wuppertal, Germany. Click image to download.

Image: The Themomix, by Vorwerk

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Fat is the new black: 

How the Fashion Industry Profits from Obesity in the United States

Becky Tsadik and Stanley Ulijaszek Isabel Beshar examine the fashion and beauty industry's embrace of the plus-size  category and its structuring of female body norms. They engage with the work of Charli Howard, Clementine Desseaux, and Lane Bryant in the advertising campaigns #AerieREAL All Woman Project, #ImNoAngel and #PlusIsEqual campaigns 

Click image to download.

Image: Charli Howard and Clementine Desseaux , #AerieREAL All Woman Project

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Cream Meetings

Curious about the multisensorial encounters of those affected by eating disorders, Bronwyn Platten and Megan Warin discuss the film, Untitled (The Party) (2011) by artists Sarah Coggrave and Bronwyn Platten. Click image to download.

Image: Sarah Coggrave and Bronwyn Platten, Untitled (The Party) 2011 image from filmed performance. Camera and Editing: Insa Langhorst. Stills: Huw Wahl © The Artists


Ecologies of Water, Fluid Boundaries and Obesity Studies 

Professor Stanley Ulijaszek engages with artist Amy Sharrocks’ Museum of Water to think about leaks and boundaries in fluids and fields of knowledge. Click image to download.

Image: Artist Amy Sharrocks’ Museum of Water contains a collection of over 200 publicly donated samples of water in individually-chosen bottles, and the stories and poems that accompany them.

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Mukbang and the Progression Toward Digital Commensality

Ashley Thuthao Keng Dam 

describes the emergence and popularity of a new form of commensality through digital media - Mukbang, with its origins in South Korea. She engages with the works of Mukbang BJs

Stephanie Soo, Park “The Diva (더디바)” Seo-Yeon, Raphael Gomes, It’s So Good, and SIO ASMR 

Click image to download.

Image: Mukbang BJ Stephanie Soo

Mark Menjivar, Refrigerators “Bar Tender” | San Antonio, TX | 1-person Household | Goes to sleep at 8 AM and wakes up at 4 pm daily 2007; Credits: Camera and Editing: Mark Menjivar

The Fridge: A Window into the Soul

Isabel Beshar reflects on what the insides of fridges might say about us. She explores the work of artist Mark Menjivar, who photographed the insides of fridges all over the United States. Click image to download.

Image: Mark Menjivar, Refrigerators “Bar Tender” | San Antonio, TX | 1-person Household | Goes to sleep at 8 AM and wakes up at 4 pm daily 2007; Credits: Camera and Editing: Mark Menjivar


Obesity in the Pacific Islands

Inspired by Jake and Dinos Chapmans’ sculpture, Amy McLennan writes about obesity in the Pacific Islands. Click image to download.

Image © the artists
Photo: Stephen White
Courtesy White Cube


The First Thousand Days of Life: Obesity and Global Health Policy in South Africa

Michelle Pentecost (ISCA,  University of Oxford, and  First Thousand Days Research Group, University of Cape Town) reflects on travelling images and travelling technologies in the context of contemporary nutrition policy in South Africa. Click image to download.

Image: 'The Woman from Dambaza.’ Artist unknown.

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