Second Fattest

An argument that I find myself making over and over is that although diet is a very personal thing, it can be understood sociologically. And not only can it be understood this way, you have to understand it this way if you’re to make sense of facts like one which I start the book with: that the closer Mexican teenagers are to the US border, the more likely they are to be overweight.

The dynamics of consumption that have been imposed on Mexico by its more powerful northern neighbour are having some profound effects. Mohammed writes with this article, which announces that Mexico is the second-most overweight country in the world, after the US, and if trends continue, will soon outweigh the gringos. More than 71 percent of Mexican women and 66 percent of Mexican men are overweight, according to the latest national surveys.

Interesting, and repugnant, are the comments that the online readers of the Arizona star have appended to the article. It links up with another sociological phenomenon about obesity – newspaper reports are systematically more likely, as Abigail Saguy says, “Given that higher weights are inversely correlated with social class in heterogeneous and affluent societies such as the United States and that African American and Mexican American women are especially likely to be categorized as obese, blaming fat people for their weight may serve to justify and reinforce social inequities.”

Can’t get to this without a little sociology.