Economist author of most important unread book on obesity dies

June 12th, 2013 by MorganDowney Leave a reply »

The New York Times reports on June 12,  2013 that Robert W. Fogel, Nobel Prize winner in Economics, died at the age of 86. The Time’s obituary notes, “In 2011, Professor Fogel and three co-authors published what the New York Times called the “capstone” of a huge project that had occupied three decades of his later work: The Changing Body: Health, Nutrition and Human Development in the Western World Since 1700.” (Cambridge University Press, New York)

That book (reviewed here in June 2011) established that the human body was increasing in both height and weight for 300 years, not 30 years as many obesity pundits like to allege. Furthermore, the book establishes that the increases in height and weight are due to improved nutrition, which is due, in turn to positive technological improvements in agriculture, food safety, reduction in communicable diseases, improvements in public water and sewer systems, etc. This approach clearly contradicts the mantra of blame attached to food companies, television, computer games, etc. It makes obesity more complicated. It forces people to think. So, of course, people don’t bother with it. Quel dommage!