Upending conventional dietary wisdom

Wavering on vegetarianism, and a new book on obesity

February 7, 2012

In a recent Boston Globe article, several longtime vegetarians explained their various reasons for abandoning strict vegetarianism in favor of flexitarianism. Some missed the taste and texture of meat, or felt that they were simply missing out; others didn’t like feeling dependent on soy-based substitutes. Whatever the reason, many said they hadn’t gone back to eating the whole hog; they were still trying to figure it out.

Which is what a new book about our current obesity epidemic attempts to do. Julie Guthman’s Weighing In: Obesity, Food Justice, and the Limits of Capitalism challenges the simplistic “eat less, exercise more” advice given to the overweight. As Guthman writes, socioeconomics and the environment play significant roles in fostering obesity:

Studies have shown that fat people are subject to discrimination in education, job placement, wages, and health care. Thinness doesn’t guarantee high status, but obesity pretty much guarantees low status. So maybe low economic status is as much a consequence of obesity as a cause.

Her conclusion? That “food needs to be regulated at the point of production, not consumption.”

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