Translating obesity: Navigating the front lines of the "war on fat"

Sarah Trainer, Alexandra Slade, Daniel Hruschka, Deborah Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objectives: Obesity is treated within medicine, public health, and applied sciences as a biomedical fact with urgent health implications; obesity is also, however, a social fact and one that reveals biomedical concerns can lead to social suffering. Translation of social science-oriented obesity research for broader public good requires navigation of the space between these polemical and seemingly mutually exclusive positions. Methods: Using examples from our own current programs of biocultural research, we explain the opportunities and ongoing challenges of efforts to bridge the chasm between critique and intervention when the topic under discussion is obesity. The examples range from cross-population analyses of human variation and the implications for how we measure and classify obesity to biocultural research into fat-stigma to translational research conducted as part of a larger collaboration across multiple institutions. Results and Conclusions: Translation of social science-oriented obesity research for broader public good requires collaborative work across disciplines and fields, as well as between academics, professionals working in public health and medicine, policy makers, and other key stakeholders. Translation efforts must acknowledge and develop practical programs addressing the "obesity crisis," but also are compelled to question core assumptions upon which obesity-reduction interventions have thus far been based. Am. J. Hum. Biol. 27:61-68, 2015.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-68
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Human Biology
Volume27
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Anthropology
  • Genetics

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