In recent decades, America has been waging a veritable war on fat in which not just public health authorities, but every sector of society is engaged in constant “fat talk” aimed at educating, badgering, and ridiculing heavy people into shedding pounds. We hear a great deal about the dangers of fatness to the nation, but little about the dangers of today’s epidemic of fat talk to individuals and society at large. The human trauma caused by the war on fat is disturbing - and it is virtually unknown.

Susan Greenhalgh is Professor of Anthropology at Harvard University. In her book, Fat-Talk Nation, Greenhalgh shows how the war on fat has produced a generation of young people who are obsessed with their bodies and whose most fundamental sense of self comes from their size.

We hear all the time about weight gain, weight loss, how Americans are the heaviest we have ever been, and myriad plans for remedying our egregious fatness. Yet, what if much of what we are told, and what we believe, simply is not true?

Writer Harriet Brown set out to explore our relentless obsession with weight and thinness in the new book Body of Truth: How Science, History, and Culture Drive Our Obsession with Weight--and What We Can Do about It.

We’re constantly warned about the dangers of being overweight or obese; even the government has proclaimed a war on obesity, demanding that steps be taken to end the epidemic. Our society glorifies the slender and super-fit and our concerns over body image boosts a $54 billion diet industry. Yet, according to the new science of obesity, the lean models and the mean athletes may be heading to an early grave.

In his new book, The Obesity Paradox: When Thinner Means Sicker and Heavier Means Healthier, cardiologist and researcher, Carl J. Lavie, reveals the truth behind body fat’s effect.

  Childhood obesity has become a national crisis.

In today’s Congressional Corner, Massachusetts Representative Jim McGovern tells WAMC’s Alan Chartock about his work on the House Agriculture nutrition subcommittee.

    Sarah Varney is a senior correspondent with Kaiser Health News. She also reports for NPR’s science and health desk and the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, and McClatchy newspapers. She has reported extensively on health policy and health disparities within the public health sphere, and she has contributed multiple stories to NPR’s "Living Large," a series on how obesity is changing life in America.

In her book, XL Love: How the Obesity Crisis is Complicating America's Love Life, she travels the country and tells the personal stories of men and women who are experiencing what millions of others feel every day, along with the stories of those who are in the business of helping them: physicians, researchers, scientists, psychologists, sociologists, and more.

Kids Face Pitfalls When It Comes To Lunch, Snacks

May 17, 2014
Pepperoni Pizza
Jon Sullivan via Wikimedia Commons

From processed foods to vending machines, unhealthy food choices are around every corner for kids.


  Sure, sugar is in ice cream and cookies, but what scared Eve Schaub was the secret world of sugar--hidden in bacon, crackers, salad dressing, pasta sauce, chicken broth, and baby food.

With her eyes open by the work of obesity expert Dr. Robert Lustig and others, Eve challenged her husband and two school-age daughters to join her on a quest to eat no added sugar for an entire year.

Along the way, Eve uncovered the real costs of our sugar-heavy American diet--including diabetes, obesity, and increased incidences of health problems such as heart disease and cancer. Eve Schaub’s new book is Year of No Sugar.

It’s early August.  We’re past summer’s midpoint and the barrage of back-to-school ads have begun.  While those ads may offer parents a light at the end of the tunnel, thinking about schoolchildren also raises an important policy issue: the growing problem of childhood obesity.

Sean Philpott: Weighty Thoughts

Jun 27, 2013

I've been thinking a lot about Paula Deen, but not for the reason that you might suspect. I'm not all that interested in the way she allegedly treats her employees, he casual use of ethnic slurs, or her half-hearted apologies for the way she has behaved. All of that just confirms what I already know: that despite what five US Supreme Court justices seem to think, there is still a strong undercurrent of racism in American society.

5/8/13 - Panel

May 8, 2013

  Today's panelists are WAMC's Alan Chartock and Ray Graf and University at Albany Journalism Professor and Investigative Reporter, Rosemary Armao. Joe Donahue moderates.

This morning our discussion topics include:
Mark Sanford wins in SC
The Cleveland kidnap story and trafficking of women
Pepsi Cola drops Lil Wayne
Military Sexual Assaults Soar
Suicide Rates Jump
Chris Christie Weight
Dow sets another record