October 01 , 2010


A Cultural History of Obesity


The modern world is faced with a terrifying new ‘disease’, that of ‘obesity’. As people get fatter, we have come to see excess weight as unhealthy, morally repugnant and socially damaging. Fat it seems has long been a national problem and each age, culture and tradition have all defined a point beyond which excess weight is unacceptable, ugly or corrupting.

This fascinating new book by Sander Gilman looks at the interweaving of fact and fiction about obesity, tracing public concern from the mid-nineteenth century to the modern day. He looks critically at the source of our anxieties, covering issues such as childhood obesity, the production of food, media coverage of the subject and the emergence of obesity in modern China. Written as a cultural history, the book is particularly concerned with the cultural meanings that have been attached to obesity over time and to explore the implications of these meanings for wider society. The history of these debates is the history of fat in culture, from nineteenth-century opera to our global dieting obsession. Fat, A Cultural History of Obesity is a vivid and absorbing cultural guide to one of the most important topics in modern society.

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