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International Journal of Applied Philosophy

Volume 23, Issue 2, Fall 2009

Robert Scott Stewart, Sue A. Korol
Pages 285-304

De-Signing Fat
Re-Constructing the Global Obesity Epidemic

This paper argues first that claims that we are in the midst of a global obesity epidemic are vastly overblown and hardly new since we can find such calls to alarm for over a century at least. Second, we suggest that claims made about the possibility of losing weight are, for most people, simply false. Bluntly stated, there is lots of evidence to suggest that diets don’t work for the vast majority of people: even for those who lose weight, their reprieve from fat tends to be short lived with 90% regaining their lost weight. Third, we maintain that claims made that obesity is either itself a disease or is causally and directly linked to harmful and sometimes lethal diseases are also misguided. Finally, we discuss the ways in which the construction of obesity as an epidemic disease has affected various parties, including fat people themselves. In particular, we discuss two approaches that have been made to the general anti-fat attitudes of contemporary western societies: the ‘fat and fit’ and ‘fat and proud’ movements.

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