Fat, Gluttony and Sloth

BookFat, Gluttony and Sloth

Fat, Gluttony and Sloth

Obesity in Literature, Art and Medicine

2009

September 1st, 2009

£25.00

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The UK is now in the throes of an obesity epidemic. Life expectancy has been improving for centuries, advances in hygiene, science, public health and medicine have enabled us to live longer and to lead more productive lives but now obesity, on its own, is threatening to herald a reduction in life expectancy in coming generations. The number of overweight people in the world has overtaken the number of malnourished for the first time. Much has been written about the dietary medical and social causes of obesity yet little work has been done on the cultural history of the subject. In Fat, Gluttony and Sloth: Representing Obesity in Art Literature and Medicine, David W. Haslam, Clinical Director of the National Obesity Forum, and MD turned art history PhD Fiona Haslam set out to put the current obesity crisis in historical perspective. Through innovative and enlightening work on art, literature and the history of medicine the authors examine the changing meaning of ‘fat’ in the public consciousness: from circus freaks to pharmacology, from ‘John Bull’ to Billy Bunter. The authors’ convincing argument is that present day food, fashion, fads and fat cannot be dissociated from history and that can be lessons learnt from the mistakes of the past.

The West is in the throes of an obesity epidemic. Life expectancy has been improving for centuries, while advances in hygiene, science, public health and medicine have enabled us to live longer and to lead more productive lives. But now obesity, on its own, is threatening to herald a reduction in life expectancy in coming generations. The number of overweight people in the world has overtaken the number of malnourished for the first time. Much has been written about the medical and social causes of obesity, yet little work has been done on the cultural history of the subject. In Fat, Gluttony and Sloth, David Haslam and Fiona Haslam set out to put the current obesity crisis in historical perspective. Through an innovative and enlightening exploration of obesity in art, literature and the history of medicine, the authors examine the changing meaning of ‘fat’ in the public consciousness: from circus freaks to pharmacology, from ‘John Bull’ to Billy Bunter. The authors’ convincing argument is that present-day food, fashion, fads and fat cannot be dissociated from history and that lessons can be learnt from the mistakes of the past.

The West is in the throes of an obesity epidemic. Life expectancy has been improving for centuries, while advances in hygiene, science, public health and medicine have enabled us to live longer and to lead more productive lives. But now obesity, on its own, is threatening to herald a reduction in life expectancy in coming generations. The number of overweight people in the world has overtaken the number of malnourished for the first time. Much has been written about the medical and social causes of obesity, yet little work has been done on the cultural history of the subject. In Fat, Gluttony and Sloth, David Haslam and Fiona Haslam set out to put the current obesity crisis in historical perspective. Through an innovative and enlightening exploration of obesity in art, literature and the history of medicine, the authors examine the changing meaning of ‘fat’ in the public consciousness: from circus freaks to pharmacology, from ‘John Bull’ to Billy Bunter. The authors’ convincing argument is that present-day food, fashion, fads and fat cannot be dissociated from history and that lessons can be learnt from the mistakes of the past.

A timely historical survey of cultural perceptions of obesity.

Journal of the History of Medicine, Vol. 65

The Haslam volume brings together a wide range of sources, wonderful reproductions, and a basic approach that will give many students pause.

Reviews in History

Fat, Gluttony and Sloth: Obesity in Literature, Art and Medicine is an entertaining exploration of obesity that is simultaneously empathic, stark, humorous, unsettling, cautionary, and hopeful. Go ahead and take a nibble. There is no need to feel guilty about sampling this tasty book.

The Journal of the American Medical Association

The book is extremely well researched and illustrated throughout and a book which health professionals who have any interest in the causes and management of obesity will enjoy as it explores much more than just medical fields. Don’t, however, take my word for it. The proof of the pudding is in the reading.

Pulse

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About The Author

David Haslam is Chairman and Clinical Director of the National Obesity Forum, and medical doctor. He is Visiting Lecturer at Chester University and Visiting Fellow at the Postgraduate Medical School of Herts & Beds. Fiona Haslam worked for many years in medical practice and in 1986, while still working she began her research into medicine and art, which resulted in the award of a doctorate from the University of St Andrews. She has written a number of articles on medicine and art and is the author of From Hogarth to Rowlandson: Medicine in Art in Eighteenth Century Britain (Liverpool University Press, 1996)