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Article

metrology, Roman  

Andrew M. Riggsby

There is a large body of evidence for Roman use of weights and measures. In theory, they would have been able to measure a variety of quantities with great precision, given the variety of different-sized units at their disposal and an elaborate system of fractional subdivisions of those units. Moreover, those measurements could have been accurate with respect to a shared system because of publicly available exemplary standards, a theoretical connection between the definitions of the most important measurements, and the existence of state officials who could enforce the standards. As a result, Romans could, in principle, have conveyed very specific metrological information across a great deal of space and time. In practice, measurement was considerably less predictable and less precise. Actual measurement did not necessarily avail itself of the full resources of the theoretical system, and sometimes did not appeal to any general system. Moreover, overtly competing systems coexisted with the “official” ones at all times. Finally, it is not clear how coherent that official system was, nor were the actual systems of enforcement particularly robust. As a result, measurement was often imprecise and/or tightly localized (which probably generated weak expectations of being able to replicate measurement across different contexts).

Article

Fat  

Azita Chellappoo

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Food Studies. Please check back later for the full article. Research into the social and cultural dimensions of body size has been rapidly growing, including within the interdisciplinary field of fat studies. Fat studies scholars contest and critique mainstream ideas about body size or weight, including the view that “obesity” is fundamentally pathological or inherently unhealthy, or that individuals can control their body size. Researchers have also challenged negative stereotypes and highlighted the harms of moralizing and stigmatizing discourses about larger bodies. Research within this area often draws upon ideas produced within fat liberation activist movements, including rejecting the term “obesity” as overly medicalizing and pathologizing, and instead reclaiming “fat” and “fatness” as neutral descriptors. Research has identified and characterized the pervasiveness of anti-fatness (weight stigma, or anti-fat discrimination) within and across societies. Anti-fatness has interpersonal and structural dimensions, both of which can have far-reaching effects on fat people’s lives, including effects on health outcomes. Scholars have traced the historical emergence of anti-fatness, the connection between anti-fatness and racial hierarchy, and the ways in which anti-fatness contributes to the moralization of food and the prevalence of dieting practices. Additionally, policies and clinical guidelines developed to address the “obesity epidemic,” such as calorie labeling and the use of body mass index (BMI), have been a target of critical examination. Researchers have suggested that these interventions can function as potentially harmful practices of control and surveillance that reinforce anti-fat attitudes and structures. Similarly, frameworks and understandings of food environments, food justice, and health have been evaluated in terms of the ways in which these discourses can continue to problematize fat bodies and contribute to discrimination or marginalization. There has been increasing recognition of the harms of anti-fatness in fields such as public health, which has led to attempts to move away from stigmatizing language and interventions, and to reject placing responsibility on individuals. However, these attempts have been criticized for continuing to medicalize and pathologize fatness, and therefore continuing to perpetuate harm. As the language and policies around “obesity” or fatness shift, in part driven by the introduction of novel weight-loss interventions such as Ozempic, research into social attitudes toward fatness and the experiences of people with larger bodies continues to evolve.

Article

Weight and Weightism  

Analisa Arroyo and Kristin Andersen

Weight-based stigma is pervasive and is propagated via sociocultural and interpersonal messages that influence individuals’ identity. The ideals communicated in these messages place disproportionate value on appearance and have made weight an important component of attractiveness. Some cultures, particularly Western culture, hold a bias toward thin bodies and promote a bias against those who do not fit cultural ideals of slender or lean body shapes. This bias, judgment, stigma, prejudice, and discrimination toward individuals based on their size, shape, or weight is known as weightism. Most of the research regarding weightism has been conducted on obesity and overweight individuals because of the related public health concerns. However, because weight is a continuum on which individuals are frequently evaluated, stigmatization is experienced by individuals who are either over or under cultural norms for appropriate weight and toward those who engage in deviant weight-control behaviors (e.g., purging). Thus, because individuals with eating disorders are often underweight and have deviant eating behaviors, they also experience weight-based stigma and discrimination. There are a multitude of negative effects associated with being a part of these stigmatized weight groups, including lower self-esteem, less social confidence, greater body dissatisfaction, poorer mental health, and increased substance use and self-harm behaviors. These negative outcomes create a social divide between the stigmatized weight groups and others, wherein stigmatized individuals turn to negative health behaviors (e.g., bingeing and purging) in an effort to cope with their negative social experiences. Subsequently, they perpetuate their affiliation with their stigmatized weight group and the related health conditions.

Article

Gender and Cultural Diversity in Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology  

Diane L. Gill

Gender and cultural diversity are ever-present and powerful in sport, exercise, and performance settings. Our cultural identities affect our behaviors and interactions with others. As professionals, we must recognize and value cultural diversity. Gender and culture are best understood within a multicultural framework that recognizes multiple, intersecting identities; power relations; and the action for social justice. Physical activity participants are culturally diverse in many ways, but in other ways cultural groups are excluded from participation, and especially from power (e.g., leadership roles). Sport, exercise, and performance psychology have barely begun to address cultural diversity, and the limited scholarship focuses on gender. Although the participation of girls and women has increased dramatically in recent years, stereotypes and media representations still convey the message that sport is a masculine activity. Stereotypes and social constraints are attached to other cultural groups, and those stereotypes affect behavior and opportunities. Race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and physical characteristics all limit opportunities in physical activity settings. People who are overweight or obese are particularly subject to bias and discrimination in sport and physical activity. Cultural competence, which refers to the ability to work effectively with people of a different culture, is essential for professionals in sport, exercise, and performance psychology. Not only is it important for individuals to develop their own cultural awareness, understanding, and skills, but we must advocate for inclusive excellence in our programs and organizations to expand our reach and promote physical activity for the health and well-being of all.

Article

Spatial Models in Econometric Research  

Luc Anselin

Since the late 1990s, spatial models have become a growing addition to econometric research. They are characterized by attention paid to the location of observations (i.e., ordered spatial locations) and the interaction among them. Specifically, spatial models formally express spatial interaction by including variables observed at other locations into the regression specification. This can take different forms, mostly based on an averaging of values at neighboring locations through a so-called spatially lagged variable, or spatial lag. The spatial lag can be applied to the dependent variable, to explanatory variables, and/or to the error terms. This yields a range of specifications for cross-sectional dependence, as well as for static and dynamic spatial panels. A critical element in the spatially lagged variable is the definition of neighbor relations in a so-called spatial weights matrix. Historically, the spatial weights matrix has been taken to be given and exogenous, but this has evolved into research focused on estimating the weights from the data and on accounting for potential endogeneity in the weights. Due to the uneven spacing of observations and the complex way in which asymptotic properties are obtained, results from time series analysis are not applicable, and specialized laws of large numbers and central limit theorems need to be developed. This requirement has yielded an active body of research into the asymptotics of spatial models.

Article

Metrical Structure and Stress  

Matthew K. Gordon

Metrical structure refers to the phonological representations capturing the prominence relationships between syllables, usually manifested phonetically as differences in levels of stress. There is considerable diversity in the range of stress systems found cross-linguistically, although attested patterns represent a small subset of those that are logically possible. Stress systems may be broadly divided into two groups, based on whether they are sensitive to the internal structure, or weight, of syllables or not, with further subdivisions based on the number of stresses per word and the location of those stresses. An ongoing debate in metrical stress theory concerns the role of constituency in characterizing stress patterns. Certain approaches capture stress directly in terms of a metrical grid in which more prominent syllables are associated with a greater number of grid marks than less prominent syllables. Others assume the foot as a constituent, where theories differ in the inventory of feet they assume. Support for foot-based theories of stress comes from segmental alternations that are explicable with reference to the foot but do not readily emerge in an apodal framework. Computational tools, increasingly, are being incorporated in the evaluation of phonological theories, including metrical stress theories. Computer-generated factorial typologies provide a rigorous means for determining the fit between the empirical coverage afforded by metrical theories and the typology of attested stress systems. Computational simulations also enable assessment of the learnability of metrical representations within different theories.

Article

The Business Cycle and Health  

Cristina Bellés-Obrero and Judit Vall Castelló

The impact of macroeconomic fluctuations on health and mortality rates has been a highly studied topic in the field of economics. Many studies, using fixed-effects models, find that mortality is procyclical in many countries, such as the United States, Germany, Spain, France, Pacific-Asian nations, Mexico, and Canada. On the other hand, a small number of studies find that mortality decreases during economic expansion. Differences in the social insurance systems and labor market institutions across countries may explain some of the disparities found in the literature. Studies examining the effects of more recent recessions are less conclusive, finding mortality to be less procyclical, or even countercyclical. This new finding could be explained by changes over time in the mechanisms behind the association between business cycle conditions and mortality. A related strand of the literature has focused on understanding the effect of economic fluctuations on infant health at birth and/or child mortality. While infant mortality is found to be procyclical in countries like the United States and Spain, the opposite is found in developing countries. Even though the association between business cycle conditions and mortality has been extensively documented, a much stronger effort is needed to understand the mechanisms behind the relationship between business cycle conditions and health. Many studies have examined the association between macroeconomic fluctuations and smoking, drinking, weight disorders, eating habits, and physical activity, although results are rather mixed. The only well-established finding is that mental health deteriorates during economic slowdowns. An important challenge is the fact that the comparison of the main results across studies proves to be complicated due to the variety of empirical methods and time spans used. Furthermore, estimates have been found to be sensitive to the use of different levels of geographic aggregation, model specifications, and proxies of macroeconomic fluctuations.

Article

Greek metrology, Bronze Age  

Robert Schon

During the Bronze Age, people living in the Aegean region began adopting standardized measures. Aegean metrology took numerous forms and included measurements of weight, volume, length, area, and time. Some metrological units are depicted on Linear B (and some earlier Linear A) texts of the Late Bronze Age. In a few cases, archaeological remains, such as weights and scales, provide further insights into Aegean Bronze Age metrology.Ancient weights have been identified in numerous ways, some more reliable than others. A few weights appear in proportional sets or are marked with their unit designation, making their identification straightforward. In other cases, archaeologists rely on context or reasonable deduction (e.g., “What else could they be?”). Certain spool-shaped stones found in Early Bronze Age (c. 2500bce) contexts, most notably at Tiryns, may be weights.1 If so, these would be the earliest confirmed balance weights in the Aegean. Eleven haematite and two similarly hard stone weights were discovered by Valmin in various strata at Malthi, a Bronze Age site in .

Article

American Food, Cooking, and Nutrition, 1900–1945  

Helen Zoe Veit

The first half of the 20th century saw extraordinary changes in the ways Americans produced, procured, cooked, and ate food. Exploding food production easily outstripped population growth in this era as intensive plant and animal breeding, the booming use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, and technological advances in farm equipment all resulted in dramatically greater yields on American farms. At the same time, a rapidly growing transportation network of refrigerated ships, railroads, and trucks hugely expanded the reach of different food crops and increased the variety of foods consumers across the country could buy, even as food imports from other countries soared. Meanwhile, new technologies, such as mechanical refrigeration, reliable industrial canning, and, by the end of the era, frozen foods, subtly encouraged Americans to eat less locally and seasonally than ever before. Yet as American food became more abundant and more affordable, diminishing want and suffering, it also contributed to new problems, especially rising body weights and mounting rates of cardiac disease. American taste preferences themselves changed throughout the era as more people came to expect stronger flavors, grew accustomed to the taste of industrially processed foods, and sampled so-called “foreign” foods, which played an enormous role in defining 20th-century American cuisine. Food marketing exploded, and food companies invested ever greater sums in print and radio advertising and eye-catching packaging. At home, a range of appliances made cooking easier, and modern grocery stores and increasing car ownership made it possible for Americans to food shop less frequently. Home economics provided Americans, especially girls and women, with newly scientific and managerial approaches to cooking and home management, and Americans as a whole increasingly approached food through the lens of science. Virtually all areas related to food saw fundamental shifts in the first half of the 20th century, from agriculture to industrial processing, from nutrition science to weight-loss culture, from marketing to transportation, and from kitchen technology to cuisine. Not everything about food changed in this era, but the rapid pace of change probably exaggerated the transformations for the many Americans who experienced them.

Article

Life Span: Development and Infancy (Birth to Age Three)  

Cathleen A. Lewandowski

Infancy and young childhood are characterized by rapid cognitive, emotional, and physical development. Each year is marked by specific developmental tasks. Infants need positive parenting, a safe environment, and attention to their basic physical needs. A strong bond with caregivers is also necessary, as this lays the foundation for trust, allowing infants to explore their world. Many of the risk factors, such as prenatal exposure to alcohol and drugs, malnutrition, and abuse and neglect, can be remedied. Interventions such as home visiting, family leave, and nutrition programs are inexpensive and effective, and should receive more attention from social work. Infancy and young childhood are the most crucial periods in a child's development. There is a dynamic and continuous interaction between biology and experience that shapes early human development. Human relationships are the building blocks of healthy development, and children are active participants in their own development.

Article

Calorie Counting  

Nina Mackert

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Food Studies. Please check back later for the full article. In the 21st century, calorie counts are ubiquitous in weight-loss advice, but historically they are a fairly recent phenomenon. In the late 19th century, a transatlantic coalition of researchers and reformers began to understand food as energy for human motors that could help to optimize human and social productivity, even on a global scale. It was not until the early 20th century that calorie counting was introduced into weight-loss diets. This contributed to the emergence of fat shaming by suggesting that an individual’s excess body weight was the direct and causal result of eating more than their caloric needs, placing the responsibility for their body and health in the hands of that individual. Recent diagnoses of “the death of the calorie” confirm that the history of the calorie is a political one, in that they perpetuate the calorie’s legacy of framing weight loss as a capability of self-governing citizens.

Article

Anthropometrics: The Intersection of Economics and Human Biology  

John Komlos

Anthropometrics is a research program that explores the extent to which economic processes affect human biological processes using height and weight as markers. This agenda differs from health economics in the sense that instead of studying diseases or longevity, macro manifestations of well-being, it focuses on cellular-level processes that determine the extent to which the organism thrives in its socio-economic and epidemiological environment. Thus, anthropometric indicators are used as a proxy measure for the biological standard of living as complements to conventional measures based on monetary units. Using physical stature as a marker, we enabled the profession to learn about the well-being of children and youth for whom market-generated monetary data are not abundant even in contemporary societies. It is now clear that economic transformations such as the onset of the Industrial Revolution and modern economic growth were accompanied by negative externalities that were hitherto unknown. Moreover, there is plenty of evidence to indicate that the Welfare States of Western and Northern Europe take better care of the biological needs of their citizens than the market-oriented health-care system of the United States. Obesity has reached pandemic proportions in the United States affecting 40% of the population. It is fostered by a sedentary and harried lifestyle, by the diminution in self-control, the spread of labor-saving technologies, and the rise of instant gratification characteristic of post-industrial society. The spread of television and a fast-food culture in the 1950s were watershed developments in this regard that accelerated the process. Obesity poses a serious health risk including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and some types of cancer and its cost reaches $150 billion per annum in the United States or about $1,400 per capita. We conclude that the economy influences not only mortality and health but reaches bone-deep into the cellular level of the human organism. In other words, the economy is inextricably intertwined with human biological processes.