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Weighing In: Obesity, Food Justice, and the Limits of Capitalism

(California Studies in Food and Culture #32)

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  229 ratings  ·  26 reviews
Weighing In takes on the "obesity epidemic," challenging many widely held assumptions about its causes and consequences. Julie Guthman examines fatness and its relationship to health outcomes to ask if our efforts to prevent "obesity" are sensible, efficacious, or ethical. She also focuses the lens of obesity on the broader food system to understand why we produce cheap, o ...more
Paperback, (California Studies in Food and Culture, 32), 248 pages
Published November 5th 2011 by University of California Press (first published January 1st 2011)
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Have you ever wanted to stand up and applaud in the middle of the book? Stop whatever you are doing and acquire a copy of Guthman’s book. If you care about food issues, social justice issues, the environment, or economic justice, you need to hear what Guthman has to say.

What is the root cause of the obesity epidemic? Guthman will undercut just about every answer you think you have. What we need, Guthman argues, is not will power but the will to power.

She starts by questioning the very concept
Kevin Ouyang
Dec 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
this book is NICE. guthman does particularly well arguing the limits of healthism: how it makes wellness and thinness available (but only as affordable-to-the-few lifestyle commodities) rather than challenge the market logics that produced and continue to produce unwellness on a massive scale in the first place. she historicizes the socio-medical construction of "obesity" as rooted in the application of statistical conventions like the bell curve to human populations as well as a scientific shif ...more
Dec 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food
Weighing In is an excellent demonstration of how political ecology can be deployed to deepen our understanding of an incredibly complicated issue. Guthman provides an accessible overview of what political ecology is, and how it contrasts with apolitical ecologies, before applying it to the problem of obesity.

While I applaud Guthman’s approach, I do not agree with all of her conclusions. I was particularly troubled by her skepticism of the value of education in tackling the problems of our indus
Sep 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
so good – i think every thin person should read this but also everyone who invests, in one way or another, in “alternative food.” julie guthman is making such crucial moves esp in theorizing bodies as a “spatial fix” to capitalism’s excesses, depathologizing fatness, and linking u.s. food landscapes to the rise of neoliberalism (including border policy).
Jun 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
In Weighing In, Guthman questions many of the widely held assumptions about obesity, some of which rocked my public health education a bit - for example, that built environment interventions are for naught due to the greater influence of socioeconomic status. It's certainly a provocative and important book that is worthy of a place in public health, nutrition, and food studies to start.

I'm presenting a paper on a panel with Guthman in June 2012 at ASFS and am glad that I read her book prior to
Mya R
Apr 12, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfic-soc-econ
This was an interesting look at food politics, the science of obesity, & the social (mis)perceptions of the health issues involved in being overweight. However, it was also clearly written as a scholarly work rather than to reach popular culture & so was a bit tedious in places. ...more
Jun 17, 2020 rated it really liked it

While I really appreciate Guthman's pushing back against the common assumptions and rationales surrounding health and obesity to further complicate the picture away from the straightforward explanations of calorie-in calorie-out. However, I was really frustrated by Guthman's writing style and heavy use of jargon that unnecessarily complicates her ideas. I consider myself pretty well-versed in food issues (for a non-academic) and I still struggled to parse her language and truly understand he
Mar 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was one of the most interesting and challenging books I've read in quite a while. The author's critique of alternative food and food justice movement rhetoric and policy solutions is timely and necessary, as well as backed by copious empirical data. It has greatly influenced and altered my own thinking about the so-called obesity epidemic and how those of us who care about food justice and public health should be addressing the problem. Further, the author's critique of economic neolib ...more
Aug 28, 2018 rated it liked it
If I had to describe in a few words — thought provoking, but very academic.

Thought provoking: the author unpacks healthism, flaws of mainstream alternative food movements (is that an oxymoron?), and the aesthetically-motivated anti-fatness biases that pervade American society even to the detriment of actual science. Unless you’ve already dived deep on these issues, you’ll probably have thoughts you’d never considered before, and that’s a good thing.

Very academic: the audience is not the casual r
Apr 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In a magnificently researched manifesto, Julie Guthman breaks down every assumption about obesity- down to asking "is it a problem?". She connects the dots between farm policy, diet culture, immigration reform, healthcare, and many other aspects of US society in a coherent and exhaustively documented body of research.

I cannot recommend this book enough. Question all of your assumptions, then question them again.
Krista Aoki
Nov 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
If you consider Michael Pollan's history of the subsidization of food in The Omnivore's Dilemma well-researched (which I did), Julie Guthman will go above and beyond for you. Their analysis of the food system and its political history complement each other, and I think it would do anyone very well to get a basic framework of the current status of the food system for Pollan.

Still, Guthman's critique of the food system seems much more concise, as she takes a firmer stand against the neoliberalist
Jan 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Julie Guthman is fast becoming my favorite author on this food journey o'mine. I have appreciated reading several of her articles, but this book has been a new favorite for me.

At times humorous (every time she throws Michael Pollan under the bus) and at times sharp witted and critical (critiquing food justice and the food movement) Weighing In provides an overall critique of the rhetoric used within the food movement; the way bodies are used as sites of consumerism and capitalism by industries w
Della S.white
May 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Portion sizes in eating establishments have blown out of proportion. Foods companies under the claim that they give people what they want have redefined the meaning of small, medium, and large and people have lost sense of what a portion is and eat more.

Economics weighs heavily on the food crisis. It costs more to eat well and to exercise. Modern technology made food cheaper and physical activity less needed. The food is manufactures is full of fat and sugar and causes obesity. The present econ
Jill Lucht
Mar 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It took me a long while to get through this book, but not because it isn't excellent, interesting, and thought-provoking. After burning out in the land of non-profit farm policy, I became entranced by the market-based solutions of alternative food. Unfortunately, Guthman put me back on the hook for collaborative, forward-thinking policy work. Quite frankly, it is the neo-liberal market-based food economy that got us into the obesity epidemic, and market-based solutions are not going to get all o ...more
Jun 03, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: food
I read this one twice, for two different classes in grad school, and I had a different take on the book both times. The first time, I was frustrated with the seemingly fat-positive author and her criticisms of the obesity epidemic. The second time around, armed with a better understanding of healthism, neo-liberalism, and the implications of obesity in America, I found it to be a very worthwhile read.
Maggie Mayhem
Jan 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Really good read analyzing the neoliberalism of "health" among other topics. Smart and relevant, a necessary contrast to Michael Pollan and a strong indictment of the notion that raising the cost of food would be a pathway to American health.
Jul 29, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Guthman discussed a lot of things that no other food activist has really brought up yet. Some of her points are very valid. However the first half of the book seemed to take an anti-science stance, which bothered me a little.
Apr 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Mar 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Very interesting, thought-provoking book. It's definitely made me reassess my biasses towards folks I perceive as unhealthy, and my own privileged life.
Jan 03, 2012 marked it as to-read
Shelves: food, non-fiction
Putting this one back on the to-read shelf because I had to rush through parts
Apr 14, 2015 added it
Interesting approach to considering the so-called obesity epidemic. Prompts important questions about alternative explanations and how we might begin to effectively reduce harms to health.
Jul 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book. Challenged widely-held ideas including my own on the definition, causes and impacts of obesity on society and the economy.
May 21, 2013 is currently reading it
Em sent this to me and it's a feasible way to look at obesity and the way our current issues about food.
Nick Harris
Feb 02, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: food
Fairly dry at times, and could have used some solutions to round out the arguments. However, filled with some thought provoking critiques, particularly for alternative food and obesity measurement
mis fit
Oct 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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