Cogprints

'Fat people and bombs':HPA axis cognition, structured stress, and the US obesity epidemic

Wallace, Rodrick and Wallace, Deborah (2003) 'Fat people and bombs':HPA axis cognition, structured stress, and the US obesity epidemic. [Preprint]

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Abstract

We examine the accelerating 'obesity epidemic' in the US from the perspective of recently developed theory relating a cognitive hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis to an embedding 'language' of structured psychosocial stress. Using a Rate Distortion argument, the obesity epidemic is found to represent the literal writing of an image of a ratcheting pathological social hierarchy onto the bodies of American adults and children. This process, while stratified by the usual divisions of class and ethnicity, is nonetheless relentlessly engulfing even affluent majority populations. Our perspective places the common explanation that 'obesity occurs when people eat too much and get too little exercise' in the same category as the remark by US President Calvin Coolidge on the eve of the Great Depression that 'unemployment occurs when large numbers of people are out of work'. Both statements ignore profound structural determinants of great population suffering which must be addressed by collective actions of equally great reform.

Item Type:Preprint
Keywords:hierarchy, information theory, obesity, phase transition, social dominance
Subjects:Psychology > Psychobiology
ID Code:2745
Deposited By:Wallace, Rodrick
Deposited On:27 Jan 2003
Last Modified:11 Mar 2011 08:55

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