Guest editorial

Ethnicity and Inequalities in Health and Social Care

ISSN: 1757-0980

Article publication date: 10 June 2014



Taylor, V.H. (2014), "Guest editorial", Ethnicity and Inequalities in Health and Social Care, Vol. 7 No. 2.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Guest editorial

Article Type: Guest editorial From: Ethnicity and Inequalities in Health and Social Care, Volume 7, Issue 2

Weighty matters: the role of weight in the lives of women

I subscribe to a number of list serves, some academic and some that definitely fall within the gray media category. One thing they all have in common is that they focus on issues related to weight - weight loss, weight gain, weight maintenance and weight acceptance. Another commonality between them is the overwhelming amount of contradicting information they share. Skim any popular celebrity magazine for a three-month period and you will see headlines proclaiming how a certain celebrity looks disturbingly thin or how another is clearly "putting on a few" and had better be pregnant or else. Quite often these comments are in reference to the same, usually female, individual. A similar phenomenon occurs in academia, where the updates that fill my inbox proclaim that either bariatric surgery works or does not, weight loss and maintenance is achievable or is not, and we should either worry about our weight if we do not want to experience dire medical consequences or we should not care about our weight or else we will suffer from dire psychological consequences. So, in the end, what is a person to do?

The submissions that were received in response to a call for papers to examine this topic, four of which are published in this current issue, highlight just how relevant this area is. In fact, it is so important right now that what was intended to be a single-issue topic has expanded into two, as the response to our call was overwhelming. In the current issue we focus on concepts that are at opposite ends of the weight debate spectrum: issues dealing with anorexia and obesity, education on weight control and psychological concerns facing women seeking bariatric surgery. All address key constructs that impact issues pertaining to health, gender and access to care.

As I prepared this editorial I noticed the latest offering from the Obesity Society, whose masthead indicates they are the leading scientific society dedicated to the study of obesity. It was sent to one of my social media accounts and its headline reads "Why facebook may be making you fat." This headline subsequently links to a posting from an online magazine (www:// Given that women dominate nearly every form of social media available, it seems academia and the gray literature spheres are linking forces. This is not necessarily a negative, as it is important that information be circulated and that we are knowledgeable when making healthcare decisions. The way the public, and especially women, are inundated with contradictory information creates a hard to navigate arena, however, and too much information, when it is not the right kind or quality, can cause as much inequity as too little can.

Accessing information should be much like a eating at a buffet. We need to be able to prioritize, use previous knowledge to make decisions on what we want to consume and avoid filling up on empty calories. It is our goal that this current issue, with its focus on women and issues pertaining to weight provide the appropriate amount of food for thought. A well-informed connoisseur will make better choices and help us move the field forward.

Happy reading and Bon Appetit.

Valerie H. Taylor

Dr Valerie H. Taylor is a Chief Psychiatrist based at Department of Psychiatry, Women's College Hospital, Toronto, Canada.

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