Creative Destruction, Economic Insecurity, Stress, and Epidemic Obesity

Kevin W. Capehart and Jon D. Wisman

in Insecurity, Inequality, and Obesity in Affluent Societies

Published by British Academy

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780197264980
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191754135 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

Creative Destruction, Economic Insecurity, Stress, and Epidemic Obesity

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The past three decades have witnessed a substantial increase in insecurity and stress as capitalism's creative destruction has become ever-more pervasive. A link between insecurity, stress and obesity is strongly suggested by the negative social gradient of obesity. This chapter begins with a survey of the dominant explanations of the obesity epidemic and their limitations. The second section surveys research that is supportive of a relationship between insecurity, stress and obesity. The third section provides evidence of the rise of insecurity and stress as creative destruction has gathered momentum over the past three decades. The fourth section examines the anomalously stable obesity rates between 1960 and 1980. The fifth section notes evidence of the worldwide relationship between rising insecurity and obesity. The chapter concludes with a reflection that, should the argument be correct, the obesity epidemic may be symptomatic of a social disorder in modern capitalist society.

Keywords: insecurity; stress; capitalism; capitalist society; obesity; epidemic; social disorder

Chapter.  16519 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Health, Illness, and Medicine

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