Is obesity un-American? Disease concerns bias implicit perceptions of national identity

Erik M. Lund, Saul L. Miller
  • Evolution and Human Behavior, July 2014, Elsevier
  • DOI: 10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2014.03.004

Is obesity un-American?

What is it about?

Approximately two-thirds of the United States population is overweight or obese, and this fact appears not to have escaped the public's attention, as indicated by the increasing popularity of reality television shows such as The Biggest Loser, More to Love, and Fat Actress. This provokes the question- is it that to be American is to be obese? We found that Americans do not implicitly think of obesity as part of the American identity. This is especially true for thin Americans.

Why is it important?

Americans do not implicitly (unconsciously) consider obesity part of the American identity. Also, an evolutionarily ancient fear of disease affects how people think and feel. When people are afraid of getting sick, they often act irrationally. Because obese individuals display morphological abnormalities (e.g., a highly exaggerated midsection), they may be misperceived as pathogen carriers. Therefore an unjustified fear of getting sick may promote prejudice or stigma towards the obese.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2014.03.004

The following have contributed to this page: Erik Lund