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Reconstructing Obesity: The Meaning of Measures and the Measure of Meanings

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Volume 2

Food, Nutrition, and Culture

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Reconstructing Obesity

The Meaning of Measures and the Measure of Meanings

Edited by Megan McCullough and Jessica Hardin
Afterword by Stephen T. McGarvey

256 pages, 5 figures, 1 table, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78238-141-9 $135.00/£99.00 / Hb / Published (October 2013)

ISBN  978-1-78533-028-5 $34.95/£27.95 / Pb / Published (October 2015)

eISBN 978-1-78238-142-6 eBook

View CartYour country: - edit Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®


“By situating this collection at the nexus of understanding of knowledge about obesity and obesity itself as contextual, sociocultural, and contested phenomena, the various authors contribute an understanding of obesity as both a local biology and a global assemblage… Highly recommended.” • Choice

“This is not a book that seeks to discredit health research and leave others to do the work of finding a better way to conduct it; rather, it aims to improve health research by providing useful avenues for critique and suggestions for ways forward. In this sense, it works as a very practical guide for those working in the health professions, whether as researchers or healthcare providers, to better understand “obesity” and “overweight” and, importantly, fat people in social and environmental context… it makes a welcome and necessary intervention into the business of health research, provision, and discourse, as well as its public reception.” • Fat Studies Journal

“The volume is framed by an excellent Introduction…  In all, the various contributions and the volume as a whole successfully de-naturalise and de-universalise obesity so that it is no longer a singular category and the various taken for-granted assumptions about the stigmas attached to it are reconceived.” • Social Anthropology/Anthropologie Sociale

Reconstructing Obesity is successful in challenging currently-held notions regarding the measurement and meanings of obesity and fatness. It encourages us to employ critical approaches and interdisciplinary research for advancing obesity research, public health messaging and interventions, and health care practices… an important book for now and in the future.” • American Journal of Human Biology

“The volume includes contributions from ten authors seeking to problematize the taken-for-granted assumptions underlying popular, media, and professional discourses about obesity. It is a welcome addition to the growing body of medical anthropological research about chronic and non-communicable conditions… The volume makes several novel contributions to the literature, including, among others, integrated analyses of the linkages between obesity and restrictive eating in cultural context… Overall, the book is an excellent reminder that there is more than meets the eye in popular and professional discourses that dominate our thinking about obesity and health.” • Medical Anthropology Quarterly

“A valuable text. The arguments and chapters are coherently linked to highlight the role of cultural assumptions in medical and social attitudes towards fatness and obesity. The volume makes a strong contribution to contextualizing ideologies on fatness and invites the reader to engage with a diverse range of disciplinary perspectives.” • Lucy Aphramor, Well Founded Ltd, Centre for Exercise and Health


In the crowded and busy arena of obesity and fat studies, there is a lack of attention to the lived experiences of people, how and why they eat what they do, and how people in cross-cultural settings understand risk, health, and bodies. This volume addresses the lacuna by drawing on ethnographic methods and analytical emic explorations in order to consider the impact of cultural difference, embodiment, and local knowledge on understanding obesity. It is through this reconstruction of how obesity and fatness are studied and understood that a new discussion will be introduced and a new set of analytical explorations about obesity research and the effectiveness of obesity interventions will be established.

Megan B. McCullough is a Research Health Scientistat the Center for Healthcare Organization and Implementation Research (CHOIR), Health Services Research &Development, US Department of Veterans Affairs.  Her current research examines pharmaceuticalization, hierarchies of knowledge among healthcare teams, non-physician clinicians, patient-provider communication and patient-centered care.

Jessica A. Hardin is an assistant professor of anthropology at Pacific University. Her research examines the intersections of Christianity, metabolic disorders, and well-being in Samoa.

Subject: Medical AnthropologyFood & Nutrition


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