The Body Size and Health Debate is part of the Health and Medical Issues
Today series. This book is of particular interest for those who want to
develop a better understanding of how body size and health are viewed in
the United States. Although the United States is not alone in its focus on
a particular version of attractiveness for both females and males, there is
a clear message in this country that being overweight or obese is not only
unattractive but also decidedly unhealthy. This book is, in many ways, a
labor of love. routinely work with men and women who struggle with
body image issues as well as the pressure they feel from nearly every-
where to lose weight. Many are also told unequivocally that they cannot be
healthy unless they do lose weight. There remains a healthy and at times
highly contentious debate among health-care providers about whether or
not someone can be healthy even if their body mass index (BMI) places
them in the range of obesity. My hope is that after reading this book you
will learn about research yielding results that are new to you and that you
are provided with enough information that you will learn more about
these issues and come to your own, well-thought-out and fully informed
As already noted, this book covers information related to body weight,
shape, and size explicitly as well as the degree to which body size reveals
anything about our health status. The book is organized into three parts.
Part includes several chapters on topics ranging from what is considered
to be the ideal body to an approach to weight and health that is contro-
versial. Chapter  1 explores the expectations for the ideal body shape and
size throughout modern history. Emphasis is on expectations for women’s
bodies; however, expectations for males are explored as well. Chapter  2
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