Too much of a good thing? Weight management, obesity, and the healthy body in Britain, 1950 - 1995

Kirby, Martha (2015) Too much of a good thing? Weight management, obesity, and the healthy body in Britain, 1950 - 1995. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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‘Too Much of a Good Thing?’ Weight management, obesity and the healthy body in Britain 1950 – 1995, examines the social and cultural interactions that have helped to forge understandings of the healthy body in Britain since the Second World War. Weight management has occupied a complex cultural space since 1950. The growth of an affluent society created a new set of public health problems for those who sought to improve the health of the nation; yet, the control of one’s weight is a highly individualised task that requires people to develop a form of self-governance that is to be ceaselessly exercised. Every meal, every snack, every drink that passes the lips of the dieting individual has to be measured and accounted for, if one is to succeed in losing weight. Through an examination of state policy, medical advice, and popular culture, this thesis traces the various social actors that have contributed to contemporary understandings of obesity. It is argued that, over the period, the overweight body was re-fashioned from a personal problem, to a public health problem with personal consequences. The greater the perceived threat of obesity to public health, the more carefully individual self-governance was offered as the solution. Self-governance of the ‘weighted self’ was, however, gendered. Women were the central pillar, as the social group most likely to engage in weight control, and in their roles as mothers and wives, around which the web of responsibility for overweight was formed.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Obesity, weight management, cultural history, social history, governmentality, healthy body.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Economic and Social History
Funder's Name: ESRC
Supervisor's Name: Nicholson, Professor Malcolm and Elliot, Dr. Rosemary
Date of Award: 2015
Depositing User: Dr Martha Kirby
Unique ID: glathesis:2015-7113
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 22 Apr 2016 08:17
Last Modified: 01 Apr 2019 15:20

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