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Fat Politics: The Real Story Behind America's Obesity Epidemic
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Fat Politics: The Real Story Behind America's Obesity Epidemic

3.58  ·  Rating Details ·  158 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
It seems almost daily we read newspaper articles and watch news reports exposing the growing epidemic of obesity in America. Our government tells we are experiencing a major health crisis, with sixty percent of Americans classified as overweight, and one in four as obese. But how valid are these claims? In Fat Politics, J. Eric Oliver shows how a handful of doctors, govern ...more
Paperback, 228 pages
Published September 1st 2006 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published October 28th 2005)
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Mar 09, 2011 Angela rated it liked it
Recommended to Angela by: sdfbc
Shelves: sd-fem-bookclub
In Fat Politics Oliver sets out to prove what a few moments of reflection should make fairly obvious: body fat is, for the most part, a symptom of many of the same things that cause disease rather than a cause of disease in itself. He makes a persuasive case that being active and fat is much healthier than being sedentary and thin, and that our attempts to target only our weights are unhelpful and occasionally harmful to our health. The figures backing up fat stigma being worse on women (white w ...more
Jul 23, 2008 E rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2008, bodies
I had high hopes for this book because I hadn't come across a specifically polisci analysis of fat politics before, but it was a serious disappointment. While I agree with most of the author's basic points and some of the factual stuff is interesting, his methodology sucked, and he reduced all feminist analyses to a singular "feminist perspective" where everything revolves around a "male conspiracy." At one point he actually writes that "many feminists" might agree with the notion that there's a ...more
May 09, 2012 Stefani rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
I was first interested in reading this book when it was referenced in a podcast I listen to. I remember listening to the author talk about the "flimsy" evidence of the medical consequences of obesity and my jaw dropped. What do you mean the evidence is flimsy?! The entire United States, and much of the western world, takes these evidences as absolute fact, and I know my doctor preaches to me about them all the time! So, it must be fact or it wouldn't be touted as such....right? Then I happened t ...more
Sheryl Tribble
Aug 14, 2013 Sheryl Tribble rated it really liked it
Initially a great summary of a lot of stuff I'd already figured out. Basically, sedentary skinnies who eat a lot of junk food are less healthy than active fatties who eat a healthy diet, plus many weight-loss approaches are unhealthy, therefore focusing on the weight instead of exercise and eating habits is not going to lead to a healthier population.

But one point he makes that I hadn't really thought about is that the national weight rise is likely linked to the fact that more women are workin
Jan 05, 2013 Anne rated it liked it
I liked it, although it's a bit dry. Oliver delivers a mostly clearly reasoned argument which has provoked some thoughtful discussion in our household. Oliver argues that obesity is misclassified as a disease and excess weight is wrongly blamed for many of the health issues, such as diabetes, which are on the rise in much of the industrialized world. Instead he asserts that what we eat and our activity levels are the underlying causes of health problems but that there is little or no evidence wh ...more
Sep 18, 2016 Gina rated it liked it
I very much enjoyed Oliver's interview in the documentary Fat Head, so I sought out this book. I found it very well-researched and written in a fairly entertaining style, which made it easy to read in spite of the fact that every page is densely packed with text. But I left this book feeling there was no real reason for it to be written. Oliver's premise all the way through is, essentially: we can't change biology, we can't change this thing or that thing about how society has evolved, it won't ...more
Mar 16, 2008 elise rated it really liked it
I am not a person who struggles with my weight but I found this book to be facinating. this book reminds of when people say there was a conspiracy for 9/11, the government planned it. I typically don't believe that stuff. But, when I read this book, I wonder. It talks about the old measurments that are still being used today to designate if someone is over weight. And, the people that set guidlines for these things are all people that are connected to phamecudical (sorry can't spell?) companies. ...more
Jun 21, 2009 Jenny rated it it was ok
I'm interested in the politics of food, so I picked this up since it came up during a search for the Omnivore's Dilemma at the library.

While I'm not sure that I agree with Mr. Oliver's arguments, he does make some interesting ones, esp. the premise of why WASPs are more opposed to being fat than other cultures. I did not buy this argument as it seemed too limited in it's research -- in case you didn't notice, Asians are also "opposed" to being "fat" -- in any case... the book was well written w
Paul Ivanov
Jun 19, 2009 Paul Ivanov rated it really liked it
very eye-opening - "epidemic" created overnight without the country gaining a pound, just by changing the legal definition of "obese" from one arbitrary Body Mass Index, to a lower one.

I recommended it to a friend, and she had this to say:

"Just finished Fat Politics yesterday, and I really enjoyed it. It's certainly not perfect; there were many times when I would read his conclusions from research/studies and just shake my head. But there's a lot of good stuff in there, and I especially liked t
Apr 25, 2013 Alex rated it really liked it
This is a good examination of the so-called "obesity epidemic" in this country. A few facts that underscore the thesis: there is no established causal link between fat and the leading killers in this country, and yet the conflation is often present in discourse. (More likely health is rooted in what you eat, not what you weigh.) Exercise is crucial in overall health but not terribly efficient for weight loss. And regulating the free market is challenging. In short, the author advocates shifting ...more
Tara Brabazon
May 18, 2011 Tara Brabazon rated it really liked it
Fat Politics is tremendous and courageous. It offers a well written argument about the obesity 'epidemic.' Instead, obesity becomes a proxy that stops policy makers addressing issues with work, leisure, stress, health and automobility. It is easier to pop a diet pill than to think about the problems resulting from unlimited choices, and to celebrate an aspiration to be free rather than healthy.

The book provides a sustained argument. It is well referenced and the case is effectively made.
Mar 11, 2011 Karen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this on the Kindle edition. Part of me is glad I didn't spend extra for a dead tree version, part is frustrated because I still find Kindle editions difficult to go back and browse for information. I still find it easier to flip pages than click through. My clippings file doesn't necessarily make it easier to find what I seek either.

When I've sorted out my opinion on this book, I'll write more.
Jen Helfand
Feb 19, 2013 Jen Helfand rated it liked it
Generally pretty good. Could have gone to some richer places connecting body politics and the social construction of the obesity epidemic to other forms of social control. Racism, ableism queer ness did not find home here. No anti-capitalist solutions either which to me seemed like an obvious jump based on what he presents. I liked the bit about white (cis) women and body politics. He's definitely accurate there.
Dan Spradlin
Feb 15, 2013 Dan Spradlin rated it it was ok
This book had some good bits here and there, but the premise that being fat isn't the cause of much of the heart disease, type 2 diabetes, etc. is dumb. I think its obvious that the fatness isn't what kills you. Its the not how much we eat, but what we eat and our lack of exercise. 2 stars only for some good research points.
Rebecca Cluff
Jun 02, 2011 Rebecca Cluff rated it liked it
This book was sometimes hard to get through (read a little like a textbook), but the information and his research notes were very interesting. It certainly caused me to question many of the ideas that I had believed previously. I felt his conclusion was slightly lacking, but still a book I would recommend.
Jun 23, 2013 M rated it really liked it
There are some points made in this book that I'd argue with or think may be misinterpretations of the literature, but understanding the primary point of this book - that BMI was not developed as a scientifically supported index of health - is important; Weight is not always synonymous with health and fitness.
Aug 25, 2007 Chris rated it it was amazing
Shelves: politicalscience
Love this book. I'm still not sure I buy the premise, but Oliver's a good writer and a fantastic researcher. Anyone interested in health policy should read this book. OK--that sounds boring, but the book is not. Read it.
Christine Bozlak
Mar 09, 2008 Christine Bozlak rated it liked it
It gives another perspective on the obesity epidemic. I don't agree with everything the author states, but it's interesting, nonetheless. Good for public health professionals interested in chronic disease prevention.
Feb 02, 2013 Jordan rated it it was amazing
Excellent. A must read.
Jan 27, 2012 Catherine rated it it was amazing
Excellent. I couldn't put the book down. I encourage anyone to read this book. It will change your outlook regarding the diet and medical industries.
Aug 30, 2012 Jen rated it really liked it
A v. good book on America's obsession with thinness and understanding that you can be fit and NOT thin and being fit is far more important to overall health.
Apr 23, 2008 Lachelle marked it as to-read
I read a chapter out of this book for my Politics of Public Affairs class. It was pretty interesting. Perhaps I can handle the whole book?
I thought a look at the "obesity epidemic" from a policy standpoint would be interesting, and it was, but the author's fat bias and health bias became too much after the first three chapters.
Candice rated it really liked it
Feb 03, 2015
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