As we consider how an issue is defined, we need to pay attention to the ways in which the core concepts of sex, gender, diversity and equity affect interpretations. Think back to Sander Gilman’s article “A Weighty Problem”. He makes the point that ideas about healthy weight vary from one culture to another and are often connected with specific ideals of beauty. Gilman also argues that the ability to achieve and maintain a healthy weight is not simply a matter of lifestyle and choice. For example, genetics, including biological sex, as well as stress and disease can contribute to unhealthy weights. But poverty and food insecurity are also linked to overweight and obesity because higher quality, lower-calorie foods tend to be more expensive and less filling. Physical environments also play a role in rising rates of unhealthy weight because urban design and rural living often make walking impractical and/or unsafe. In other words, it is not a simple matter to define the issue of overweight and obesity as a “problem”.
Let’s think about how the core concepts of sex, gender, diversity and equity might affect our conclusions about whether or not overweight and obesity is a problem or what kind of a problem it is? As you look over several new pieces of information, keep asking the same questions:
- Is this issue really a problem?
- How do we know it’s a problem?
- For whom it is a problem?
- Are there other ways of looking at the issue?