The Obesity Myth: Why America's Obsession with Weight is Hazardous to Your Health

Front Cover
Penguin, May 3, 2004 - Health & Fitness - 304 pages
Is your weight hazardous to your health? According to public-health authorities, 65 percent of us are overweight. Every day, we are bombarded with dire warnings about America’s "obesity epidemic." Close to half of the adult population is dieting, obsessed with achieving an arbitrary "ideal weight." Yet studies show that a moderately active larger person is likely to be far healthier (and to live longer) than someone who is thin but sedentary. And contrary to what the fifty-billion-dollar-per-year weight-loss industry would have us believe medical science has not yet come up with a way to make people thin.

After years spent scrutinizing medical studies and interviewing leading doctors, scientists, eating- disorder specialists, and psychiatrists, Professor Paul Campos is here to lead the backlash against weight hysteria—and to show that we can safeguard our health without obsessing about the numbers on the scale. But The Obesity Myth is not just a compelling argument, grounded in the latest scientific research; it’s also a provocative, wry exposé of the culture that feeds on our self-defeating war on fat. Campos will show:

  • How the nation’s most prestigious and trusted media sources consistently misinform the public about obesity
  • What the movie industry’s love affair with the "fat suit" tells us about the relationship between racial- and body-based prejudice in America
  • How the skinny elite—with their "supersized" lifestyles and gas-guzzling SUVs—project their anxieties about overconsumption on the poorer and heavier underclass
  • How weight-loss mania fueled the impeachment of Bill Clinton

In this paradigm-busting read, Professor Campos challenges the conventional wisdom regarding the medical, political, and cultural meaning of weight and brings a rational and compelling new voice to America’s increasingly irrational weight debate.


What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Annahoj -

As a fat person, I found this book extremely helpful in focusing my mind toward trying to find a healthy way to become more healthy, rather than just trying to diet and lose weight. Even aside from ... Read full review

The obesity myth: why America's obsession with weight is hazardous to your health

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Here's a shocker: Campos argues that those extra pounds may not be as bad for you as the medical establishment suggests. Now dig into that sundae. Read full review


Fat on Trial
The World Turned Upside Down
Fat Culture
Lost in the Supermarket
The Bimbo Culture
All the News Thats Print to Fit
Chronic Restrained Living
The Athlete Within
Life During Wartime
Fat Politics
Feminist Accused of Unsightly Weight Gain
Anorexia Nervosa and the Spirit of Capitalism
The Last American Diet
Body Mass Index Table

Why Do Americans Diet?
The Last 10 Pounds

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2004)

Paul Campos is a Professor of Law at the University of Colorado. In addition to his numerous academic publications, he is a widely published journalist, who writes a weekly column for His work also appears regularly in Newsweek/The Daily Beast, and in The New Republic. Campos's blog "Lawyers, Guns, and Money," where he co-blogs with five other academics, is one of the top 100 political blogs on the internet, as measured by site traffic. In August of 2011 Campos began another blog, "Inside the Law School Scam," which in the first year of its existence hosted nearly two million visits. In January of 2012 Above the Law named Campos its Lawyer of the Year.

His books include Don't Go To Law School (Unless), The Obesity Myth, Jurismania, and Against the Law (with Steven Smith and Pierre Schlag).

Bibliographic information