June 11 , 2013
Lecture 9: Consuming Food Part 2
Part 1: Over-nutrition and Obesity
• The prevalence of obesity is rising very rapidly in both developed and developing
• Diet and exercise both play a role in obesity (energy in is greater than energy out)
Your socio-economic status can affect you (how much money you make), genetics,
mental illness, advertising, education, and emotional stability (social determinants).
No where else in the world has obesity been more stark than in the US. Obesity is
defined right now, as a BMI of 30 or greater (30 lbs overweight for a 5‟4” person).
In Canada, under 38% of adults were at a healthy weight. About 1% were
underweight, 37% were overweight and 24% were obese. More than 17% of
children/youth overweight and 9% were obese
What accounts for the rise in obesity? Julie Guthman article
• The energy balance model?
• Obesegenic environment thesis? (environments cause fatness)
• Health at Every Size? (trans-disciplinary movements. We have to stop talking
about weihts in the first place, and instead health. Dieting has been proved to
cause more problems. We should move towards intuitive eating (letting our
bodies tell us when and what to eat) We should look at people‟s health instead of
their weight- it increased health behaviors, increase psychological and emotional
things, which has a huge impact on health).
• Environmental toxins? (Obesity and weight increases are directly related to
environmental toxins. Exposure to synthetic toxins and chemicals that cause
weight gain- dyes, perfumes, pesticides (on our food), etc. Chemicals that alter the
fluctuation of hormones produced by the body, either mimicking or enhancing
them in your body. Chemicals that transform body ecologies that make them more
susceptible to weight gain. This can also be passed on to offspring. Larger
weights might be protecting our body from these toxins. It absorbs these toxins
instead of our heart doing so. It might be an evolutionary response to protect us.)
Obesity is often blamed of behavioral causes (eating too many calories), but research
has challenged the idea that higher weights are actually resulted of caloric intake and lack
of energy. These are assumptions we make without questioning anything. “When you‟re
poor, you‟re larger” but some science has shown that it‟s not the case.
Some notes on obesity
• Obesity is not a health outcome, unless disabling
• Obesity is associated with, but is not synonymous with, an unhealthy lifestyle
(thin unhealthy people also at risk!)
• Lots of debate about whether obesity in and of itself is a risk factor for poor health • Definitions of obesity are somewhat arbitrary, because they change over time (not
always evidence-based). BMI fails to capture other factors of weight.
• Health and morality clearly linked in our society‟s obsession with fat.
• Individually focused interventions to improve diet (and physical activity) and
reduce obesity have met with limited success
• Individual social and psychological factors do not adequately explain the rise in
overall obesity prevalence. Growing emphasis on physical environments.
• Explanations of obesity tend to fall into either supply-side (focus on food
production) or demand-side explanations (culture consumption) but both are
overly simplistic. Supply side is about causal links to weight gain.
“The [obesity] trend is alarming because it contradicts standard predictions about the
long years of healthy and active retirement that the first generation raised in “the age of
affluence” was expected to enjoy. Instead, [the baby boomers] may well