Gender, Obesity, and Stigmatization

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Obesity is defined and identified in a number of ways, depending on whether it is in a medical, social, public health, or other context. After a brief primer on obesity, its causes and effects (and in particular its gender-based effects), this entry will examine weight stigmatization in more detail, giving an overview of some of the major results of studies across social science and public health fields. Next will be a discussion of two main approaches from which to understand and address effects of weight stigmatization. Two common approaches – those pursued by public health ethicists and by various feminist scholars – overlap in some ways but differ substantively about the nature and medical status of obesity. Finally, this entry summarizes responses to issues of obesity and gender from the standpoints of both ethical approaches. There is a growing consensus across disparate groups about how to understand obesity as a social phenomenon, how to address it, and even how to reconceive health and fitness in ways that underplay the importance of body weight.

Original Citation

Womack, C.A. (2014). Gender, Obesity, and Stigmatization. In P.B. Thompson & D.M. Kaplan (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Food and Agricultural Ethics. doi: 10.1007/978-94-007-6167-4.