On my 2013 list of books to read is What’s Wrong With Fat? by Abigail Saguy, published by Oxford University Press.
What caught my was this press release from UCLA in my twitter feed.
“”What’s Wrong With Fat?” shows how debates over the best way to discuss body size — including as either a health or civil rights problem — do not take place on an even playing field. Saguy contends that powerful interests benefit from drawing attention to the “crisis,” including the International Obesity Task Force (a lobbying group funded by pharmaceutical companies), obesity researchers and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. On the other hand, fat-acceptance groups, which try to reframe fatness as a civil rights issue, are at a disadvantage because they have considerably less economic power and cultural authority, she says.”
But beyond the incomplete and misleading information on the issue, America’s obsession with obesity is itself unhealthy, she argues.Saguy cites studies demonstrating that fat women are reluctant to get medical care for fear of being chided about their weight or treated insensitively by their doctors. In fact, research has shown that obese women are more likely to get cervical cancer because they are less likely than thinner women to get pap smears.Meanwhile, Saguy’s own research shows that people who read news accounts of the “obesity epidemic” are more likely than people who have not read such reports to perceive fat people as lazy, unmotivated, sloppy, and lacking in self-discipline and competence.Those attitudes have been shown to play out in a variety of socially damaging ways, Saguy says, including in increasingly widespread weight discrimination. Recent research has shown, for example, that bias against fat people in employment, education, health care and other areas is now comparable in prevalence to reported rates of racial discrimination in the U.S.Heavier women in particular, Saguy notes, are less likely to be hired and less likely to earn a higher salary, compared with their similarly qualified but thinner peers.“American attitudes about fat may be more dangerous to public health than obesity itself,” she says.”