Obesity, neoliberalism and epidemic psychology: critical commentary and alternative approaches to public health

Lee F. Monaghan, Andrea E. Bombak, Emma Rich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Citations (Scopus)


Obesity and neoliberalism are two concepts that generate plenty of concern and debate, arguably leading to more heat than light when terms like ‘epidemic’ are thrown into the fray. Drawing from critical weight studies, this paper offers critical commentary on the recent designation of obesity as a ‘neoliberal epidemic’ that can be attributed to energy-dense foods and a toxic mode of political economic organization. After delineating neoliberalism and the use of this concept in health studies, discussion turns towards contrasting invocations in the ‘fat field’ before seeking to navigate a course through this terrain. In addition to contributing to critical weight studies and the obesity debate, this commentary engages discussions on the perils of invoking neoliberalism in public health critique. In conclusion, we move from critique to hope with reference to epistemologies derived from alternative health practices, notably frameworks incorporating Indigenous knowledge(s).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalCritical Public Health
Early online date5 Sep 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Sep 2017



  • critique
  • epidemic
  • fatness
  • hope
  • neoliberalism
  • Obesity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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