The Oxford Handbook of the Social Science of Obesity

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There is an urgent need to better understand the causes and consequences of obesity, and to learn what works to prevent or reduce obesity. This volume accurately and conveniently summarizes the findings and insights of obesity-related research from the full range of social sciences including anthropology, economics, government, psychology, and sociology. It is an excellent resource for researchers in these areas, both bringing them up to date on the relevant research in their own discipline and allowing them to quickly and easily understand the cutting-edge research being produced in other disciplines. The Oxford Handbook of the Social Science of Obesity is a critical reference for obesity researchers and is also valuable for public health officials, policymakers, nutritionists, and medical practitioners. The first section of the book explains how each social science discipline models human behavior (in particular, diet and physical activity), and summarizes the major research literatures on obesity in that discipline. The second section provides important practical information for researchers, including a guide to publicly available social science data on obesity and an overview of the challenges to causal inference in obesity research. The third part of the book synthesizes social science research on specific causes and correlates of obesity, such as food advertising, food prices, and peers. The fourth section summarizes social science research on the consequences of obesity, such as lower wages, job absenteeism, and discrimination. The fifth and final section reviews the social science literature on obesity treatment and prevention, such as food taxes, school-based interventions, and medical treatments such as anti-obesity drugs and bariatric surgery.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Comprehensive and impressive... For those who want to master the last two decades of social science research on obesity by reading a single volume, [t]his handbook provides an accessible crash course." —Lancet

"A good entry point to the literature on a vast array of subjects related to obesity." —The Atlantic

"Among health issues, the problems wrought by obesity are of prime concern to health professionals and to the subjects themselves.... This impressive collection of research papers with its massive bibliography will serve as the anchor for continued studies into the perplexing obesity dilemma. Highly recommended." —CHOICE

"There are few topics more important to health policy than obesity, and this volume has many of the best thinkers on the topic. It is a major step forward in our understanding of eating, exercise, and weight." —David Cutler, Otto Eckstein Professor of Applied Economics, Harvard University

"During the past three decades, the United States and most of the rest of the developed world have experienced a rapid and sustained rise in the obesity rate. This trend has stimulated an enormous amount of research by social scientists dealing with its causes and consequences and with policies to combat it. This fascinating volume contains detailed, comprehensive, and penetrating summaries of this body of research. It is certain to have a major impact in guiding new studies and in the formulation of new policies in this crucial area." —Michael Grossman, Distinguished Professor of Economics, City University of New York Graduate Center and Health Economics Program Director and Research Associate, National Bureau of Economic Research

"Need I state the obvious, that the obesity pandemic - associated with our opulence, social structure, and post-industrial lifestyle - is an insidious threat to our long run well-being? Even if policy makers remain complacent, nowhere is the prevalence rate as high as in the United States where amazingly practically two out of three adults are now either overweight or obese. This splendid collection of studies should help us formulate more effective ways to counter the epidemic and at the same time provide future researchers an effective starting point for expanding the frontiers of knowledge on the economic aspects of this complex problem. The editor and publisher should be commended for bringing together such an excellent collection on the current state of knowledge. Simply indispensable." —John Komlos, University of Munich, Founding Editor of Economics and Human Biology

"I think that the book achieves its objective of being a state-of-the-art summary of current thinking around research in the field and presents some interesting points, e.g. that research findings vary depending on geography, race and age... for anyone undertaking research or an MFOM project on obesity, it is an essential background read." —Occupational Medicine

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199736362
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 10/13/2011
  • Series: Oxford Handbooks Series
  • Pages: 912
  • Product dimensions: 7.10 (w) x 9.80 (h) x 1.80 (d)

Meet the Author

John Cawley is an associate professor in the Department of Policy Analysis and Management at Cornell University. His primary field of research is health economics, with a focus on the economics of obesity. He studies the effect of body weight on labor market outcomes such as wage rates, unemployment, employment disability, and the transition from welfare to work. He also investigates the role of body weight in youth behavior, such as skill attainment, smoking and sexual activity. His other research concerns treatments for obesity, such as anti-obesity drugs and bariatric surgery. He is also evaluating workplace and school interventions to prevent or reduce obesity. Other research concerns the impact of food advertising on the consumption of specific branded food items by children and youth.

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction: John Cawley of Cornell University Part 1: Disciplinary Perspectives on Obesity:
2. The Epidemiology of Obesity: Aviva Must and E. Whitney Evans of Tufts University
3. The Demography of Obesity: Christine L. Himes of Syracuse University
4. The Cliometrics of BMI and Obesity: Scott Alan Carson of University of Texas - Permian Basin
5. The Anthropology of Obesity: Amanda L. Thompson and Penny Gordon-Larsen of University of North Carolina
6. The Psychology of Obesity: Ashley Moskovich of Duke University, Jeff Hunger of California State University at Fullerton, and Traci Mann of University of Minnesota.
7. The Sociology of Obesity: Jeffrey Sobal of Cornell University
8. The Economics of Obesity: John Cawley of Cornell University
9. Behavioral Economics and Obesity: Julie S. Downs and George Lowenstein of Carnegie-Mellon University
10. Obesity Politics and Policy: Rogan Kersh of New York University and James Morone of Brown University
11. Fat Studies: Esther D. Rothblum of San Diego State University

Part 2: Data and Methods
12. Publicly-Available Data Useful for Social Science Research on Obesity: Inas Rashad Kelly of Queens College, City University of New York
13. The Complex Systems Science of Obesity: Diane T. Finegood of Simon Fraser University
14. Challenges for Causal Inference in Obesity Research: M. Christopher Auld of University of Calgary and Paul Grootendorst of University of Toronto

Part 3: The Causes and Correlates of Diet, Physical Activity, and Obesity
15. Race, Ethnicity and Obesity: Renee Walker and Ichiro Kawachi of Harvard University
16. Socioeconomic Status and Obesity: Lindsay McLaren of University of Calgary
17. The Nutrition Transition and Obesity: Barry M. Popkin of University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
18. Peer Effects and Obesity: Jason M. Fletcher of Yale University
19. Maternal Employment: Patricia M. Anderson of Dartmouth College
20. Depression and Obesity: Ellen Granberg of Clemson University
21. Food Marketing, Television and Video Games: Elizabeth A. Vandewater of Research Triangle Institute and Ellen A. Wartella of Northwestern University
22. Portion Size and the Obesity Epidemic: Tanja V.E. Kral of University of Pennsylvania and Barbara J. Rolls of Pennsylvania State University
23. Mindless Eating: Brian Wansink of Cornell University
24. Food Assistance and Obesity: Michele Ver Ploeg of U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service
25. Physical Activity and the Built Environment: James F. Sallis, Marc A. Adams, and Ding Ding of San Diego State University
26. Food Deserts: Dianna Smith and Steven Cummins of University of London
27. Food Prices, Income and Body Weight: Darius Lakdawalla of University of Southern California and Yuhui Zheng of the National Bureau of Economic Research
28. Policy and Childhood Obesity: John Cawley of Cornell University and Barrett Kirwan of University of Maryland

Part 4: The Consequences of Obesity
29. Obesity and Medical Costs: Eric Finkelstein and Hae Kyung Yang of Duke University / National University of Singapore
30. Obesity and Mortality: Neil K. Mehta of University of Michigan and Virginia W. Chang of University of Pennsylvania
31. Schooling and Human Capital: Khoa Truong of Clemson University and Roland Sturm of RAND
32. Labor Market Consequences: Employment, Wages, Disability, and Absenteeism: Susan L. Averett of Lafayette College
33. Bias, Stigma and Discrimination: Rebecca M. Puhl of Yale University
34. Medical and Social Scientific Debates over Body Weight: Abigail C. Saguy of University of California - Los Angeles and Paul Campos of University of Colorado

Part 5: Social Science Insights into Prevention, Treatment, and Policy
35. The Imperative of Changing Public Policy To Address Obesity: Christina A. Roberto and Kelly D. Brownell of Yale
36. Economic Perspectives on Obesity Policy: Tomas J. Philipson and Richard A. Posner of University of Chicago
37. Lessons for Obesity Policy from the Tobacco Wars: Frank J. Chaloupka of University of Illinois at Chicago.
38. Food Taxes and Subsidies: Evidence and Policies for Obesity Prevention: Lisa M. Powell and Jamie F. Chriqui of University of Illinois at Chicago
39. School-Based Interventions: Tamara Brown of Liverpool University.
40. Workplace Obesity Prevention Programs: Ron Z. Goetzel of Emory University, Niranjana Kowlessar of Thomson Reuters, Enid Chung Roemer of Emory University, Xiaofei Pei, of Thomson Reuters, Maryam Tabrizi of Thomson Reuters, Rivka C. Liss-Levinson of Emory University, Daniel Samoly of Emory University and Jessica Waddell of Thomson Reuters.
41. Community Interventions: Christina D. Economos and Sarah A. Sliwa of Tufts University
42. Regulation of Food Advertising: Pauline M. Ippolito of Federal Trade Commission
43. Unintended Consequences of Obesity Prevention Messages: Sahara Byrne and Jeff Niederdeppe of Cornell University
44. Behavioral Treatment of Obesity: LaShanda Jones-Corneille, Rebecca M. Stack and Thomas Wadden of University of Pennsylvania
45. Anti-Obesity Drugs and Bariatric Surgery: William Encinosa of Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Dongyi Tony Du of the Food and Drug Administration, and Didem Bernard of Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
46. Correlates of Successful Maintenance of Weight Loss: Victoria Catenacci, Paul MacLean, Lorri Ogden, Sarit Polsky, Holly Wyatt, and James Hill of University of Colorado
47. Cost Effectiveness of Anti-Obesity Interventions: Social Science Insights Into Treatment, Prevention, and Policymaking: Larissa Roux of University of British Columbia

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