Summary: This video is from the Today Show and can be used to highlight the very real health concerns associated with obesity, a problem which stems in part from living in a society that encourages people to move less and eat more. According to the news report, Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and West Virginia are the "fattest" states, while Colorado, Massachusetts, and Vermont are the leanest. While there is a tendency for people to conclude the issue boils down to personal choices, this report draws attention to a more systemic reason for obesity. The lowest rates of obesity tend to occur in the wealthiest states, suggesting that leaner states are able to encourage exercise by building more pedestrian friendly infrastructure. Class discussion can also be pushed beyond the explicit message of the report, and students can be encouraged to critically examine the discourse on obesity in the United States. Much like this news report, people often connect weight and health, but it is simply not the case that being overweight is the same as being unhealthy. Similarly, students can also be encouraged to examine the phenomenon of fat shaming and how the widespread practice of photographing overweight bodies without heads (a.k.a., "headless fatties") reinforces the message that having an overweight body is so shameful, identities need to be disguised.
Submitted By: Vicky Herbel, Associate Professor of Sociology