Monday, April 11, 2011

Globalizing obesity

A former UGA Anthropology professor Alexandria Brewis, who is now teaching at Arizona State University has show that being overweight is increasingly being stigmatized globally. (Here is a photo of an overweight dog as a proxy for the owner.) Here is a quote from here research findings:

Slim bodies often are idealized by Americans, who seem to have a disparaging attitude towards fatness. But, does the rest of the world view overweight bodies the same way?

Recent findings by a team of Arizona State University researchers show that rapid globalization has brought the stigma associated with obesity to other parts of the world, including those regions that previously viewed large body size in a neutral or positive light.

Read More about it here.
This recent phenomenon is very interesting and marks a new change in cultural attitudes towards health and wealth. When I traveled across China in the late 1990s, it was a sincere form of flattery to tell someone they had gained weight. While here the opposite is true. At that time, only people who were frequently dining out were able to be overweight. During my research in Vietnam, there were very very few overweight people visible in 2009. And interestingly, being thin is very important in Vietnam. And interestingly, I have listened to Vietnamese Americans discuss the pressure their families place on them about the importance of being thin in America. It seems the trend of restricting your diet and watching your weight is spreading across the globe. As societies become increasingly better off socio-economically, they are also striving to stay thin.

Why do you think this is true?

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