Obesity: Cultural and Biological Factors

Alexandra Slade

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


Humans are evolved to gain weight easily under the conditions of plenty and maintain weight when food supplies are insecure. Globalization of low cost and readily available calories alongside changes in work and built environments that encourage sedentism has led to obesity as a common condition in many parts of the world. Obesity is also increasingly associated with poverty and social and structural disadvantage within countries. Despite obesity being identified as one of the most critical contemporary public health challenges, standard interventions to address it have often failed and both child and adult obesity rates continue to rise around the world. Cultural, biocultural, and ecological theories help explain both the rise of obesity and the resistance to any easy fixes. Social theories provide critical perspectives on the medicalization of obesity and challenge pervasive views of obesity that treat it as a sign of individual moral failing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationInternational Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences: Second Edition
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)9780080970875
ISBN (Print)9780080970868
StatePublished - Mar 26 2015


  • Diet
  • Disease
  • Exercise
  • Fat studies
  • Globalization
  • Health
  • Human evolution
  • Identity
  • Medicalization
  • Obesity
  • Socioeconomics
  • Stigma
  • The body

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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