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Weight of ObesityHunger and Global Health in Postwar Guatemala$
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Emily Yates-Doerr

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780520286818

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520286818.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 25 September 2021

Bodies in Balance

Bodies in Balance

(p.131) Chapter 5 Bodies in Balance
Weight of Obesity

Emily Yates-Doerr

University of California Press

Chapter 5 draws on my observations in the nutrition clinic of Xela’s public hospital to examine the sociopolitical underpinnings of the widely expressed desire for a “balanced” diet. First, the chapter shows how instruction about metabolism routinely frames body weight through a homeostatic ideal as the sum of a calculation of foods eaten and energy expended. It then suggests that metabolic calculations parallel an accounting logic in which it is possible to convert social activity into precise and fixed variables, to be exchanged like currency. Just as the seemingly objective balance of money has always been underpinned by social activity, it shows that so too does the numerical ideal of dietary equilibrium remain deceptively beyond reach. The chapter concludes by drawing attention to the forms of balance—and imbalance—that mattered in patients’ lives but went unrecognized because of a public-health focus on numerical equivalence.

Keywords:   metabolism, relationality, homeostasis, finance, balance, equilibrium, markets, Guatemala

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