The global pediatric obesity epidemic is a “grand challenge” that will reduce quality of life and strain healthcare delivery systems for many years. The root causes and treatments of pediatric obesity are medical and social, requiring cross‐disciplinary collaboration. Research on pediatric obesity spans medicine, molecular biology, public health, and sociology and involves hospitals, clinics, community partners, and schools. However, little attention has been given to how corporations play a role in this nexus of institutions. We make the case for understanding the role of the corporation, beyond that of producer and distributor of unhealthy foods. Specifically, we consider two factors. First, we examine the work conditions that corporations create for parents and how these affect family lifestyle, differentially by socioeconomic status (SES). Second, we expose how the American tendency to “individualize” social problems is reinforced in the corporation. Faith in meritocracy directs attention to individual effort rather than structural constraints. Treating pediatric obesity as remediable by meritorious individual behaviors might obscure root causes and promising approaches based on new medical research.
Part of the book: Adiposity