Exhibition: Obesity – what’s the problem?
It would be putting it mildly to say that obesity is one of the top health issues of the day. In everyday life we are constantly confronted with lifestyle advice, headlines reporting new research on how and why to fight the fat, and numerous television programmes about heavily obese people striving to lose weight before it is too late. Again and again we are told that it is a simple matter of math, a question of energy balance: fat is accumulated energy that we for one reason or another did not use. It is as simple as that. Or is it?
Well, the question might be simple, but one thing is for certain: the answer is not… In October 2012 Medical Museion, University of Copenhagen, opened the exhibition “Obesity – what’s the problem?” The title poses a rhetorical question, and the exhibition doesn’t attempt to provide a final answer. Instead it offers an examination of obesity that draws out some of the complexities, unknowns, and new perspectives emerging at the intersection of medical treatment and research.
At the heart of the exhibition is the Roux en-Y Gastric Bypass operation. In 1999 it was discovered that the operation not only caused weight-loss but also immediately cured Type-2 Diabetes in some patients. Interacting with research into gut hormones, this discovery opened a new field of research tracing a deeper understanding of the role of hormones in controlling metabolism, appetite and weight loss.
The exhibition takes the Gastric Bypass operation as a starting point for examining three different levels on which people are trying to provide solutions to the problem of obesity: surgery, treatments, and scientific research. In the tradition of Medical Museion, we examine recent metabolic research and surgical practice from a material perspective, using our collections, new acquisitions, and design, to show how this research is performed and experienced. The connections between medical practice, obesity treatment and frontline research emerge as more closely linked that one might think, emphasizing how complex the question of obesity actually is.
The exhibition group: Bente Vinge Pedersen, Niels Christian Vilstrup-Møller, Nanna Gerdes, Ane Pilegaard Sørensen and Sven Erik Hansen with the help from experts from The Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Copenhagen; Hvidovre Hospital and many more.
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Obesity – what’s the problem opened on 3 October 2012 and closed down 2 April 2017