The Obesity Epidemic in North America: Connecting Biology and Culture by Anna  Bellisari
114 pages, $20.95 list
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The Obesity Epidemic in North America
Connecting Biology and Culture
Obesity prevalence in North America is the highest in the developed world, a situation that calls for a deeper understanding of this complex phenomenon. Brief yet comprehensive, The Obesity Epidemic in North America offers a much-needed examination of the effects of human evolution, environmental changes, human variation, poverty, and culture. An ideal supplement in nutritional anthropology or medical anthropology classes, the book’s rare biocultural perspective helps readers grasp the root causes of obesity. As Bellisari sees it, the medical and nutrition-science fields are fully engaged in developing strategies to address the obesity problem. It is institutions, such as political and economic organizations, as well as society itself, that need to become more proactive in improving obesity-related public health. This text provides a giant first step toward that end.
“The students and I enjoyed studying this work given its clarity, comprehensive perspective, and discussion of how to solve the problems addressed. I would say this study—its presentation in the form of this little book—is exactly the right length for an introductory physical anthropology course such as mine.” — Sylvia Olney, Bemidji State University

“It is an incredible challenge for any author to cover a biocultural approach to obesity, including its complex causes and medical consequences, in such a limited space. The Obesity Epidemic in North America does a very commendable job at that impossible goal, especially because the author does not assume that the reader has prior knowledge of the basic principles of anthropology.” — American Journal of Human Biology

“Great volume summarizing the obesity issue as a public health and cultural issue in postindustrial societies. Students really enjoyed it as part of my medical anthropology class.” — Kristen Borre, Northern Illinois University

“It’s a perfect supplement for a nutritional anthropology course. It covers multiple angles of obesity in a clear and succinct fashion. It’s also on the top of my list for my food and culture class. So glad you published this.” — Margaret A. Graham, University of Texas-Pan American

“Tourists always ask, ‘Why are Americans so much fatter than Europeans (and Asians)?’ Bellisari’s biocultural approach answers the question effectively, in a brief and nicely illustrated case study that is ideal for teaching.” — Patricia K. Townsend, University at Buffalo
Table of Contents
1. The North American Obesity Epidemic in a Global Context
Introduction / Is Obesity an Epidemic? / Measuring Body Fat / Adipocytes / Health Risks of Obesity / Costs Associated with Obesity / Anthropology and the Obesity Epidemic / Conclusion

2. Evolutionary Origins
Introduction / The Primate Past / Our Hominin Heritage / The Neolithic Revolution / Conclusion

3. The Biology of Obesity
Introduction / Energy Regulation / Obesity Genes / Obesity and the Lifespan / Conclusion

4. The Obesogenic Environment
Introduction / The Rise of the Obesity Epidemic / Energy Intake / Feeding Kids / The Poverty Paradox / Physical Inactivity / The Work Environment / Physical Activity and the Built Environment / Conclusion

5. Obesity and the American Dream
Introduction / Body Image / Food and Culture / Culture Change and Globesity / Capitalism, Corporations, and the Culture of Profit / The Diet Industry / Bariatric Surgery / Consumers and the Culture of Accumulation / Individualism and the Culture of Personal Freedom / Conclusion

6. The Ecology of Obesity