Book launch – Men and the war on obesity

Recently spoke at the launch of Dr Lee Monaghan’s new book Men and The War on Obesity.  A few pics from the event:


Lucy Aphramor, Emma Rich and Eoin Deveraux.


Lucy Aprhamor, Lee Monaghan (author) and Emma Rich


Seminar Funding

In June 2006, the society for educational studies put out a call for proposals for colleagues interesting in hosting one of three regional research seminars on behalf of the SES as a follow up to the themes explored during the society’s 2006 Anual seminar in London – Every child matters: A consideration and critique – Challenges for education.  We (myself and professor John Evans) were lucky enough to receive a funding award to host a follow up seminar which will take place in 2007 (details of registration to follow).  

 Totally pedagogised ‘healthy’ schools and the social rights of young people: new challenges for education?

 Seminar overview:

The proposed seminar will encourage debate and discussion on how the contexts of schooling and pedagogy, are being affected by the targeting of schools as contexts within which to address ‘health issues’. As part of the Every Child Matters: Change for Children programme, supported by the Children Act 2004, children’s trusts are currently being established with an important role in coordinating local programmes to tackle child obesity. Significant policy and practice developments associated with wider health concerns associated with an obesity epidemic, have therefore been implemented across schools in the
UK and other countries. Although under the guise of liberal pedagogy to ‘improve health’ the barrage of recent policy initiatives, associated with changing young peoples diets and regulating and monitoring their health and weight, raise important questions concerning the social rights of young people in educational settings.  Many of these policies and initiatives are presented as liberal practices in which ‘every child’s health matters’ and thus every child should be educated on matters related to making ‘informed choices’ about ‘healthy lifestyles’. However, increasingly, evidence is suggesting that collectively, these initiatives are creating new forms of regulation across every aspect of school life which may have serious effects upon their well being, identities, and impede wider social justice agendas.  They not only press young people towards excessive self-monitoring and regulation, but also reconstitute meanings around the purpose of schooling and of young people as social actors.  Furthermore, many of these initiatives are contributing towards the reconstitution of health , as a new feature of what Ball (2004) refers to as ‘performativity’ within schools where students and teachers are subject to increasing forms of accountability, comparison and competition. Health, including ones weight, size, shape, physical activity, diet and lifestyle, have become a feature of schooling where students are to show evidence of a willingness to work on themselves, and meet criteria and standards set outside those settings over which they have little or no control. Despite recent warnings alluding to the potential damages of a performance culture upon young peoples mental health
, well being, and sense of self, current health imperatives may be exacerbating such forms of schooling. The role that schools should play in addressing health issues, particularly concerns over weight and obesity  is now a significant and timely matter as  ‘debate’ on these matters pervades  the cultural terrain, and is repeatedly aired in the popular media. Various agencies with vested interests in obesity and related health issues argue the potential benefits of current health initiatives in schools and also propose new ones. For example,
UK Government proposals to annually weigh children in primary schools, recently provoked very public debates in the media between the Children’s Commission and the Department of  Health. Health issues are no longer an issue for those working in health or physical education but have become matters for educational studies more broadly in terms of the impact these policies are having upon the entire schooling culture and its students.
In the seminar, we ask: Are health agendas, shaping school cultures towards accountability, ‘performativity’ and comparability in ways which have particularly damaging consequences for young people?   

The seminar will therefore explore significant wider educational matters concerning regulation, policy and practice and the social rights of young people in education, via a focus on current developments in health education. Specifically, it will consider how wider social discourses are being (re)contextualised within school settings in ways which  reach in and regulate every feature of school life. It will draw together papers which highlight how, via the regulation of young people and their spaces, schools are emerging as microcosms of a totally pedagogised society ( Bernstein, 2001) in which ‘pedagogy’ becomes everyone’s concern, everywhere.  Together, the participants will explore how health policies increasingly encode not only Physical Education and Health curriculum and practice but virtually every aspect of school life (e.g. playground and lunchtime behaviour, peer group relationships) and how these processes impact students’ rights,  responsibilities and sense of value and self. Ostensibl,  such  policies are articulated  as liberal practices that empower and improve the health of young people, however, the papers in this seminar will raise serious issues around the implicit ethic and morality of such policies, and their capacity to control and regulate and redefine the  social rights of young people Although focusing on health policy, the seminar will thus be of interests to all educationalists and researchers concerned with issues of social justice  and  the ways in which contemporary education policy is  fashioned and impact the rights, responsibilities and practices of teachers and students.    The  one day seminar will be hosted by the
School of
Sport and Exercise Sciences,
University. Potential speakers have all engaged with international research on social analysis of the obesity debate, health, and schooling the body with reference to the implications for issues of identity, pedagogy and/or educational policy

Genetic Technology and Sport: Focus on Genotyping, Genetic Tests and Selection

On Friday 29th Septmber 2006 I attended a meeting at
UK sport, Chaired by Dr Andy Miah, on Geneotyping, Genetics and Selection in Sport. I had recently co-authored an article on this issue (Miah, A., and Rich, E (2006) Genetic Tests for Ability?: talent identification and the value of an open future, Sport Education and Society, 11, 3, pp 259 273).          
Invited Attendees: Dr Peter Fricker (Australian Institute of Sport)
Dr Wendy Hiscox (London)
Ms Alison Holloway (UK Sport)
Professor Barrie Houlihan (Loughborough)
Dr Andy Miah (Paisley)
Dr Yannis Pitsiladis (Glasgow)
Dr Emma Rich (Loughborough)
Professor Julian Savulescu (Oxford)
John Scott (Director of International Programs, UK Sport)
Dr Alun Williams (Manchester Metropolitan)
During this meeting, Dr Peter Fricker at the Australian Institute of Sport discussed the work that has taken place in
Australia in relation to this subject.  Since around 2001,
Australia has made considerable investments into studies that aim to identify ‘performance genes’ and it has spent extensive time discussing the legal and ethical implications of such research and the use of genetic information more broadly (Australian Law Reforms Commission, 2003) . This work provided the context for our conversations, which have become all the more pertinent given two important developments. First, WADA’s second landmark meeting on Gene Doping concluded with a specific statement about the appropriateness of identifying performance genes and using them within the talent selection process (see Appendix I). Second, the first commercial genetic test for performance had already been introduced to various countries (see Appendix II).This brief meeting discussed the ethics and policy implications of legislation surrounding the use of genetic tests for enhanced health characteristics. The majority of attention on genetic tests in the
UK has been limited to prenatal or pre-implantation testing, where the Human Genetics Commission explains the opportunities and dangers arising from the widespread use of such tests. The HGC and other organisations are generally dismissive of the need to consider selection for ‘enhancement’ purposes. Yet, it is unclear whether or how regulation will extend to postnatal testing for enhanced health.  The intention was to establish some conclusions and recommendations to inform this emerging debate.The meeting addressed the following questions: •    What are genetic tests for performance and how do they work? (Science)
•    What are the ethical implications of such tests, both in the administration of them and their effect on the ethics of sport? (Medical and Research Ethics; Sport Ethics)
•    What is the legal status of these tests and how would regulation function in the context of international sport? (International Medical and Sport Law/Policy)
•    Should genetic tests for performance be used as part of the talent identification/selection process in elite sport? (General Moral Philosophical)

How useful are government measures against childhood obesity?

4th July 2006, Today i took part in a discussion on BBC Radio 4 ‘womans hour’ with Tam Fry, Honorary Chaiman of the Child Growth Foundation. Details below, listen to the discussion here


Fat Fabrications

I have just secured a book contract with Routledge for a text with Professor John Evans and Rachel Allwood (loughborough University) ‘Fat Fabrications’. The book will be published in 2008, and explores the relationship between the obesity discourse, education and practice and eating disorders.

Gender, Sport and Society – GSSF

The gender sport and society forum (GSSF) is a forum for scholars and students interested in social research on gender and sport. I have established this forum as way to foster collaboration and provide a context in which to exchange dialogue about contemporary issues. Whilst the forum uses the term ‘sport’ this is taken here to embrace the wider contexts of physical cutlreu and pedagogy, and invites discussion related to all these areas. The forum provides a list of relevant journals, bibliographies and current research. A number of e-resources are also listed, including links to research centers, university courses, individual home pages of scholars, as well as up to date news of conference and recently published papers and texts. The main feature of the forum is an e-group, designed to generate awareness of recent publications, forthcoming events/conferences (e-mailed directly to group members) and also provides a network for the discussion of key issues within the field of gender, sport and society.

To join GSSF follow the link (or


I have co-authored a book on the medicalisation of cyberspace with Dr Andy Miah, Paisley University.

The medicalization of many aspects of social life, from childbirth to diet to housing, has become more and more apparent at the beginning of the twenty-first century. The involvement of ‘cyberspace’ in this new medicalized world is significant as medical advice and medication is now easily available on the Internet, e-communities of sufferers and users abound. However, the links between health and identity and cybercultural identity have been little explored. Exploring the complex social interactions between health, medicalization, cyberculture, the body and identity, “The Medicalisation of Cyberspace” addresses topical issues, looking at specific aspects such as reproductive rights and technologies, gender and sexuality, cyber identity and non-humanness.

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge,an imprint of Taylor & Francis Books Ltd (1 Sep 2006)
  • Language English
  • ISBN: 0415393647