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Weighing Status: Obesity, Class, and Health Reform

67 Pages Posted: 17 Sep 2011  

Janet L. Dolgin

Hofstra University - School of Law

Date Written: September 15, 2011


The article explores the intersection between the nation’s presumptive “epidemic” of obesity and efforts to reform the health care system. It notes parallels between attitudes toward obesity and attitudes toward poverty and suggests that a set of social and legal responses about those deemed overweight or obese echoes a wider set of beliefs and values that lies beneath the national debate about health care reform. It suggests that these beliefs and values limited the reach of health reform in 2010 and continue to do so.

More specifically, the article examines America’s recent public focus on what has been labeled an obesity epidemic and some of the efforts designed to combat it. It exposes conflicting motivations that sabotage these efforts. And it suggests that a similar set of conflicting motivations has long under-girded - and continues to under-girded - the nation’s response to providing universal or near-universal health care coverage. In this regard, the article considers some limitations embedded in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Keywords: health care reform, socio-economic status, obesity

JEL Classification: I10, I12, I30, J71, J78, B30

Suggested Citation

Dolgin, Janet L., Weighing Status: Obesity, Class, and Health Reform (September 15, 2011). Oregon Law Review, Vol. 89, No. 1113, 2011; Hofstra Univ. Legal Studies Research Paper No. 11-19. Available at SSRN:

Janet Dolgin (Contact Author)

Hofstra University - School of Law ( email )

121 Hofstra University
Hempstead, NY 11549
United States

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