Open Access Open Badges Commentary

Why are we fat? Discussions on the socioeconomic dimensions and responses to obesity

Geof Rayner1, Mabel Gracia2, Elizabeth Young3, Jose R Mauleon4, Emilio Luque5 and Marta G Rivera-Ferre6*

Author Affiliations

1 City University, London, UK

2 Universidad Rovira i Virgili, Tarragona, Spain

3 University of Staffordshire, Staffordshire, UK

4 Universidad del País Vasco UPV/EHU, Vitoria, Spain

5 Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia, Madrid, Spain

6 Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona, Bellaterra, Spain

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Globalization and Health 2010, 6:7  doi:10.1186/1744-8603-6-7

Published: 23 April 2010


This paper draws together contributions to a scientific table discussion on obesity at the European Science Open Forum 2008 which took place in Barcelona, Spain. Socioeconomic dimensions of global obesity, including those factors promoting it, those surrounding the social perceptions of obesity and those related to integral public health solutions, are discussed. It argues that although scientific accounts of obesity point to large-scale changes in dietary and physical environments, media representations of obesity, which context public policy, pre-eminently follow individualistic models of explanation. While the debate at the forum brought together a diversity of views, all the contributors agreed that this was a global issue requiring an equally global response. Furthermore, an integrated ecological model of obesity proposes that to be effective, policy will need to address not only human health but also planetary health, and that therefore, public health and environmental policies coincide.