The Mathematical Formatting of Obesity in Public Health Discourse

Jennifer Hall, Richard Barwell

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperOtherpeer-review


    Rising rates of obesity are of widespread public concern and are targeted by
    public health policy around the world. In this paper, we examine the origins
    of the most common definition of obesity, known as the Body Mass Index
    (BMI). We draw on Skovsmose’s concept of formatting, combined with a
    historical examination of the origins of the BMI, to show how obesity is a
    form of realized abstraction. We discuss how mathematics therefore formats
    obesity, indicate some of the consequences of the particular way this occurs
    through the BMI, and suggest some possibilities for mathematics teaching
    arising from this work.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationProceedings of the Eighth International Mathematics Education and Society Conference
    EditorsSwapna Mukhopadhyay, Brian Greer
    Place of PublicationPortland OR USA
    PublisherMathematics Education Society
    Number of pages14
    Publication statusPublished - 2015
    EventMathematics Education and Society International Conference 2015 - Portland, United States of America
    Duration: 21 Jun 201526 Jun 2015
    Conference number: 8th


    ConferenceMathematics Education and Society International Conference 2015
    Abbreviated titleMES8
    Country/TerritoryUnited States of America
    Internet address
    • The mathematical formatting of obesity in public health discourse

      Hall, J. & Barwell, R., 2021, Applying Critical Mathematics Education. Andersson, A. & Barwell, R. (eds.). 1st ed. The Netherlands: Brill, p. 210-228 19 p. (New Directions in Mathematics and Science Education; vol. 35).

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