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The Obesity Epidemic: Science, Morality and Ideology 1st Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0415318969
ISBN-10: 0415318963
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Editorial Reviews

Review

'The Obesity Epidemic is a superb contribution to the sociology of knowledge, and an essential text for anyone who wants to understand the current moral panic over fat.' - Paul Campos, University of Colorado, author of The Obesity Myth

'The strength in this book lies in its ability to provide its readers with a critical view of obesity science by challenging them to go beyond traditional thinking ... reminding them of the harmful and stigmatizing consequences of adopting a 'war on obesity' mentality ... This book is an essential read for anyone who is interested in health, obesity, health promotion, and public health.' - Krista Rondeau, Dieticians of Canada

About the Author

Michael Gard is Senior Lecturer in Physcial Education at Charles Sturt University, Australia.

Jan Wright is a Professor of Education and Associate Dean (Research) in the Faculty of Education at the University of Wollongong, Australia. 

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (June 15, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415318963
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415318969
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,677,956 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By D. P. Birkett on May 27, 2005
Format: Hardcover
A sceptical look, by two Australians, at what we know and

(more especially) at what we don't know, about obesity. The authors believe "It ain't what folks don't know is the problem so much as what they think they know that ain't so." The central message could be phrased as that fatness doesn't matter as much as they try to make you think, but that would be oversimplifying it. There's nothing simple about this book. I started it thinking I knew a lot more about obesity than when I finished it.

The authors write elegantly with sharp wit, but even so it is rather heavy going because of the density of information and closely reasoned argument. Although it is an important book it it difficult to know who to recommend it too, maybe anybody in the health or education field who enjoys good writing and doesn't mind having their assumptions shaken.. It's not a self-help book for dieters.

The Australian perspective is interesting. Americans are still reeling from finding they are the world's fattest men (apart from some Pacific islanders) and the British are upset from finding that they are the least athletic white nation, with curling as their only Olympic gold. The skinny athletic Australians have managed to convince themselves that they are slothful overeaters
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book takes a look at a variety of obesity research with a fresh eye. It assumes nothing, and what is revealed with this unbiased eye will surprise and amaze most readers. As many know, diets don't work. This helps explain why. Fat people aren't fat due to gluttony. Exercise, while it may be good for people of all sizes, does not contribute much to body size except in extreme cases. Twin studies and meta-analyses are methodically reviewed. Much of what passes for facts or science in the public debate on obesity, is really more about morality and ideology. Well done!
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"The Obesity Epidemic, Science, Morality and Ideology" is not light reading. The authors, university physical educators in Australia, have packed an enormous amount of research and thought into this volume. Their premises are:

1. The obesity epidemic has been hyped and blown out of proportion,

2. Scientific uncertainties have been papered over with unsupported assumptions.

3. The rush to `fix' the epidemic is likely to lead to policies which are unwise, unnecessary, wasteful and possibly counter-productive.

The authors state, "In short, the first danger that this book addresses is that talk of an `obesity epidemic' has the potential to do more harm than good." The second danger they address is that the public, journalists, scientists and other authors offer misguided explanations for the obesity epidemic. Their final and key point is that,"a scientific approach to the human body has not led, and is unlikely to lead, to more satisfactory ways of thinking about overweight and obesity." They give three reasons for this conclusion. First, "the science of overweight, obesity, health and the mediating role of exercise and diet are severely mired in controversy and contradiction...Second, it seems optimistic to suggest that the populace is on the verge of dispensing with their superstitions, fears and prejudices about body weight in favor of a more `mechanistic' or `scientific' way of thinking...Third, it is not at all clear how a more `mechanistic' or `scientific' view of weight and obesity would be a good thing." The following, dense nearly two hundred pages are written in support of their theses.
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Format: Paperback
The authors make for a very compelling review of the literature ranging from sociology, psychology, nutrition, physical education, philosophy of science, political science and history. They illuminate the results of what happens when science and morality combine to form public opinion and policy. The "moral panic" evident in the news coverage as well as much of the scientific coverage of obesity is outlined and throughly explored coming to the conclusion that there are many things that science alone will never be able to tell us about how individuals should live and that science is never as unbiased/objective as many would like to believe. I believe that this book should become required reading for those studying nutrition, medicine, public policy or public health.
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