Weighty Issues: Fatness and Thinness as Social Problems

Many people consider their weight to be a personal problem, but when does body weight become a social problem? Until recently, the major public concern was whether enough food was consistently available. As food systems began to provide ample and stable amounts of food, questions about food availability were replaced with concerns about ideal weights and appearance. These interests were aggregated into public concerns about defining people as too fat and too thin . The chapters in this volume offer several perspectives that can be used to understand the way society deals with fatness and thinness, considering historical foundations, medical models, gendered dimensions, institutional components, and collective perspectives. These different views illustrate the multifaceted nature of obesity and eating disorders, providing examples of how a variety of social groups construct weight as a social problem.