ABSTRACT

In Western societies fatness is routinely discredited as abject, abhorrent, ugly and despised (McPhail 2009). Fatness is also claimed to be a disease, of epidemic or pandemic proportions, which must be tackled (WHO 1998). Yet, amidst pervasive quasireligious moralising about gluttony and sloth, disease metaphors do little in constructing more forgiving definitions of ‘obese people’ (sic) (Evans 2006). The suggestion is even made in one UK government report that stigmatisation should be increased in order to encourage people to lose weight (UK Parliament 2004), a view echoed in the social science literature with reference to broader public health agendas (Bayer 2008; though see Burris 2008).