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The big issue
18 February 2010
We might have just missed Mardi Gras, but a new topic is up on Explore this week: obesity. Being overweight is widely recognised as a danger to health, but the social and cultural meaning of extra bodily baggage has changed over time. What hasn’t lessened, it seems, is our fascination with examining and portraying it.
Health educators have sought to persuade people of the benefits of keeping your weight under control through many different media, including film. In the 1976 Scottish Health Education Unit film ‘A Way of Life’, Jack Harrison’s overeating and aversion to exercise put his life in danger, a warning to others. For some, Winifred Holmes’ 1967 film ‘A Cruel Kindness’ offers a nostalgic look at the home comforts of the 1960s; others, like the authors of this Boing Boing post on the film, find it remarkable how much obesity has grown as a problem in the 40+ years since the film was made. If you’ve ever wondered who made this sort of educational film and suspected either health fanatics or aspiring Hollywood hacks, Steve Holland’s post on the varied life and career of Winifred Holmes will enlighten you.
If you’re feeling playful, try your hand at The Obs, an interactive learning game about nature, nurture and obesity. If you’re in a more contemplative mood, consider the case of the bioengineered obese mouse, the outcome of Victorian mouse-fancying and genetic research: obesity isn’t a problem only for humans.