Individual versus Corporate Responsibility: Market Choice, the Food Industry, and the Pervasiveness of Moral Models of Fatness

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Abstract:

There is widespread belief that the fat body is a product of individual choice. However, in recent years, public discourse has begun to acknowledge environmental influences on body size. For example, nutritionists now point to the food industry's role in creating a "toxic environment" that facilitates weight gain. This paper explores how the food industry shapes consumption patterns, various public responses to induce corporate responsibility, and the food industry's position on fat—a "market-choice frame" that emphasizes agency. Additionally, using original survey data (n = 456) and interview data (n = 42), the paper examines the resonance of this industry frame. As a whole, the data point to support for industry views, a strong belief in individual responsibility, and the pervasiveness of moral models of fatness. The social implications of these findings are discussed.
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