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How bad is obesity? Lecture to challenge assumptions

October 14, 2010

Obesity is a major public health crisis – or is it? ASU's Alexandra Brewis Slade will address “Big Fat Myths: Understanding Obesity through a Cultural and Biocultural Lens” in an upcoming lecture at ASU’s West campus.

The presentation by Brewis Slade is scheduled to take place at 6 p.m., Oct. 21, in the Kiva Lecture Hall, and is free and open to the public. Visitor parking on the West campus, 4701 W. Thunderbird Road in Phoenix, costs $2 per hour.

“One-third of American adults currently are obese, two-thirds are overweight, and this is understood as a public health crisis,” Brewis Slade said. “The most basic medical model of obesity suggests we become fat because we choose to eat too much and exercise too little, and that being fat is fundamentally bad.

"Using findings from our studies examining the cultural, social and environmental contexts of obesity in the United States and internationally, my Oct. 21 presentation will suggest the need to evaluate very carefully these core beliefs. A cross-cultural and bio-cultural perspective suggests some different conclusions about if and when we should be concerned about obesity, and what we should do about it,” she said.

Brewis Slade is executive director and professor in ASU’s School of Human Evolution and Social Change. She also is director of ASU’s Center for Global Health.

The event is part of the ThinK (Thursdays in Kiva) series at the West campus. Events throughout the 2010/11 academic year are exploring topics centered on the theme “Much Ado About Food.” For more information, call (602) 543-4521 or visit