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Making space for fat bodies?: A critical account of ‘the obesogenic environment’

Colls, R.; Evans, B.

Making space for fat bodies?: A critical account of ‘the obesogenic environment’ Thumbnail


B. Evans


A key focus for geographical and policy work on obesity has involved interrogating the concept of an ‘obesogenic environment’ – an environment with particular physical, social and economic characteristics considered to contribute towards the propensity of bodies to be or to become obese/fat. Alongside this, Critical Geographies of Obesity/Fatness challenge the classification of fat bodies as diseased and in need of intervention by drawing attention to the politics surrounding the governance of fatness and the multiple experiences of body size. In this article, we place these strands of geographical work alongside each other in order to develop Critical Geographies of Obesogenic Environments. In so doing, we not only set out the main tenets of work in geography on obesity/fatness but also raise specific questions about how bodies, environments and body-environment interactions have been conceptualized and researched. We do so in order to develop and present three research trajectories for Critical Geographies of Obesogenic Environments which will allow geographical research to engage within obesity/fatness more carefully, reflexively and critically. Specifically, this involves: redefining obesogenic environments not as environments that make bodies fat, but as environments that make fat bodies problematic; engaging sensitively with the multiplicities of fat embodied experience; and considering alternative theoretical frameworks in order to avoid the pitfalls of environmental determinism.


Colls, R., & Evans, B. (2014). Making space for fat bodies?: A critical account of ‘the obesogenic environment’. Progress in Human Geography, 38(6), 733-753.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Aug 30, 2013
Publication Date Dec 1, 2014
Deposit Date Jun 27, 2013
Publicly Available Date Nov 21, 2014
Journal Progress in Human Geography
Print ISSN 0309-1325
Electronic ISSN 1477-0288
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 38
Issue 6
Pages 733-753
Keywords Body, Fat, Fat studies, Health, Obesity, Obesogenic environment.


Accepted Journal Article (517 Kb)

Copyright Statement
Colls, R. and Evans, B. (2014) 'Making space for fat bodies? : a critical account of ‘the obesogenic environment’.', Progress in human geography., 38 (6). pp. 733-753. © The Author(s) 2013. Reprinted by permission of SAGE Publications.

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