Encouraging obesity: A capitalist pursuit

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Bonnie Berry


This paper examines capitalism as it has influenced the obesity epidemic,
largely by determining how fat and not-fat people respond to consumer choices offered by profit-seeking industries and service providers. After a brief address of the social meaning of size and the discrimination faced by fat people, I will describe the goods and services for purchase that both encourage and discourage fatness, all directed toward increased profits. A far more subtle social force encouraging size-related purchases is the normalization of large body size as advanced by the fat-acceptance movement and by a visible increase in the number of fat people in
the US and other societies. A paradox is evident in the contradictory social messages brought on by the corporate provision of economically profitable goods and services that encourage obesity, making obesity seem socially acceptable, in contrast to the very real and enduring social barriers encountered by the people-of-size. The conclusion questions the normalization (acceptance) offat and offers avenues by which the fat majority can influence the economic market.

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