The Anthropology of Obesity

Amanda L. Thompson and Penny Gordon-Larsen

in The Oxford Handbook of the Social Science of Obesity

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199736362
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

The Anthropology of Obesity

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This chapter first offers a description of anthropological approaches to the study of obesity, and then provides several theoretical models used to study obesity, with key examples of each type of model. Some of the essential methodologies used to model obesity, and a few examples of topical areas and current trends in the anthropology of obesity, are discussed. Changes in energy balance, both improvements in energy availability and reductions in energy expenditure over the course of human history, are central to the development of obesity. The link between formula feeding and early excess weight gain has been observed in several settings and ethnic groups, including African Americans, and may contribute behaviorally to the intergenerational transmission of obesity. With modernization, relatively recent changes in diet and physical activity behaviors (and thus energy balance) have shaped current trends in body size, resulting in obesity as a critical, global issue.

Keywords: obesity; anthropology; theoretical models; energy balance; formula feeding; diet; physical activity; body size

Article.  12567 words. 

Subjects: Economics ; Health, Education, and Welfare

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