The current "obesity epidemic " has been at the top of the national and, increasingly, global public agenda for the last decade, the subject of extensive and intensive concern, scrutiny, and corrective efforts from various quarters. In the United States, much of this attention is predicated on the "official " discourse, or story, of obesity-that it is a matter of personal responsibility, specifically to the end of monitoring and ensuring appropriate caloric balance. However, even though it continues to have cultural presumption, that discourse does not resonate with the populace, which may explain why efforts of redress have been notoriously ineffective. In this book, the Helene Shugart places obesity in cultural, political, and economic context, arguing that current anxieties regarding obesity reflect the contemporary crisis in neoliberalism, and that the failure of the official discourse of obesity mirrors the failure of neoliberalism more broadly: specifically, to account for authenticity, a powerfully resonant cultural concept today.
She chronicles a number of competing discourses of obesity that have arisen in response to the failed official discourse, examining and evaluating each in relation to the idea of authenticity; assessing the practical and behavioral implications of each discourse for both obesity incidence and redress; and establishing the significance of each discourse for negotiating neoliberalism in crisis more broadly.