The Body Size and Health Debate
by Christine L. B. Selby
October 2017, 208pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Greenwood

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-4805-6
$45, £35, 40€, A62
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-4806-3
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

The United States is thought to be experiencing an “obesity epidemic.” But is weight loss by any means necessary truly required to improve someone’s overall health?

Has the connection between body size and overall health been overstated for decades? This book examines how our dogged efforts to eradicate obesity may be doing more harm than good and explores alternative ways to measure and encourage health.

It’s fair to say that Americans are obsessed with body size and weight—whether it’s in the name of health and disease prevention or the idealization of unrealistically thin proportions. But trying to lose weight and drop clothing sizes is healthy, right? Or is it not healthy, in many cases?

In this book, the latest in Greenwood’s Health and Medical Issues Today series, Certified Eating Disorder Specialist and Certified Sport Psychology Consultant Christine L. B. Selby, PhD, examines the often confusing information—and misinformation—that exists on obesity and its connection to overall health. She provides a broad examination of this timely topic, addressing the rate of obesity in the United States, questioning the appropriateness of BMI to gauge overall health and well-being, discussing controversies related to weight and health including excessive dieting, and providing real-world scenarios that clearly illustrate major concepts related to weight and health. The book also summarizes a relatively new and still controversial approach to improving well-being that takes the focus off the number on the scale. But can individuals really be happy and healthy at any size


  • Presents a different perspective on the nation's "obesity epidemic" with information about the effectiveness of the current method of measuring obesity, body mass index (BMI)
  • Provides the most current data about the rate of obesity among both sexes, various age groups, and different ethnicities
  • Examines the social and political efforts to address obesity in the United States along with the impact of these efforts on those who are obese
  • Discusses an alternative to weight loss designed to focus on health behaviors rather than how much someone weighs
Christine L. B. Selby, PhD, is associate professor of psychology at Husson University, Bangor, ME, where she teaches introductory and upper-level psychology courses, including a specialized course on eating disorders. She also maintains a part-time private practice as a licensed psychologist, where she specializes in eating disorders. Selby is a member of the American Psychological Association (APA), the Academy for Eating Disorders, the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals, the Association for Size Diversity and Health, and the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP). As an active member of AASP, she cofounded and cochaired the Eating Disorder Special Interest Group. She was also president of the Society for Sport, Exercise & Performance Psychology (formerly known as the Division of Sport and Exercise Psychology). Selby is a Certified Eating Disorder Specialist and a Certified Sport Psychology Consultant. She has presented nationally on topics primarily related to eating disorders in athletes and has published articles and book chapters in the area of eating disorders and related concerns in athletes. She is also the author of Greenwood's Chilling Out: The Psychology of Relaxation.


"This book by Certified Eating Disorder Specialist and Certified Sport Psychology Consultant Christine L. B. Selby, PhD, addresses sensitive topics with dignity, compassion, and understanding. This book is an easy read with well-developed chapters. . . . This superior contribution rings controversial bell tones that contradict many negative self-image beliefs, motivate positive acceptance, and enhance self-esteem. Every high school, community college, and university should consider adding this book to resource collections. Library acquisition decision-makers will consider this contribution appropriate for health services and counseling centers. Commercial bookstores may discover this book as appropriate for self-help shelves."—ARBA, January 24, 2018

"This is a useful resource for school, public, and consumer-health libraries."—Booklist Online, May 1, 2018

"This book encourages readers to consider health from a multidimensional lens, challenging them to question traditional (and potentially outdated) views of body shape and size. The text's nine informative chapters are amply supported with a section of case scenarios to illustrate concepts discussed, along with a helpful glossary and bibliography. A compelling and timely exploration of a topic relevant to both research and practice. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals."—Choice, July 1, 2018

Health and Medical Issues Today

From the latest developments in treatment to updates on public health threats, information about health and medicine impacts lives more directly than almost any other subject. Despite a wealth of coverage online and in print media, there is still an overwhelming need for a single source to which a reader can turn for accurate, current information on an issue of concern.

The series Health and Medical Issues Today provides just such one-stop resources for those seeking solid overviews of the most controversial and persisting issues in health and psychology. Each volume offers a balanced, in-depth introduction to the medical, scientific, legal, and cultural aspects of subjects ranging from obesity to sports medicine, mental illness, HIV/AIDS, and tobacco use.
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