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Is Diet Writing Over?

Sabrina Strings, a sociologist at the University of California, Irvine, and author of Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fatphobia, has shown that some of the historical bias against bigger bodies served to distinguish between who “deserved” to be a slave and who deserved to be free. Joy Cox, Ph.D., author of Fat Girls in Black Bodies (2020), tells me the body mass index (BMI) was invented in the early 1800s by a Belgian statistician. She says it was never intended as a health indicator and fails in the case of athletes; a higher BMI might accompany other negative health factors; it might not. “Imagine living in a larger body,” Cox says, “and not being able to get life insurance, based on a number, not based on your health.”

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