Food Biomedicalization, or the Redefinition of Healthy Nutrition

By: Myriam Durocher  

For Kim (2013), the production of biochemical knowledge constitutive of what is contemporarily known as “healthy nutrition” (Brady, Gingras & Power, 2012) occurs within the current biopolitical mode of governance, where life is more addressed in terms of optimisation and enhancement than in terms of prevention and cure (Clarke, Shim, Shostak & Nelson, 2009). The knowledge about functional food, namely food that is demonstrated as having physiological effects/benefits and would reduce the risks of diseases, would be caused by the expansion of biomedicine (Kim, 2013). Following Clarke and al.’s (2000) definition, the biomedicalization of the social field is characterised by the hyper penetration of technologies through the social field, increasing the possibility to exercise an intensified and personalised medical control over the bodies, as it facilitates their constant monitoring. For instance, mobile medical devices for blood control or self-tracking applications allows individuals to generate data over their health and hence be aware in real-time of the state of the body, participating to the creation of new normatives linking bodies, food and health (Lupton, 1996; 2012). This communication, inspired by literature emerging from the fields of critical food studies and body studies and rooted in a cultural studies perspective, aims to question: how are being redefined “healthy nutrition” and "healthy bodies" through this food biomedicalization? How does it contribute to produce new normatives linking food and bodies?

"Food Biomedicalization", " Food Knowledge", " Normatives"
2018 Special Focus: Digital Food Cultures
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Myriam Durocher

Myriam Durocher is a doctoral candidate in Communication at Université de Montréal (UdeM), under the supervision of Dr. Line Grenier. Current research interests are situated at the intersection of media, critical food and cultural studies. More specifically, she is concerned by the power/knowledge relations that currently cross the production and circulation of knowledge about food, nutrition and “healthy” eating habits in the context of a society characterised by an increasing penetration of media’s presence. Her actual thesis project, entitled “D’une culture alimentaire biomédicalisée à la production d’un(de) corps contemporain(s) particulier(s)”, aims to observe the development of a biomedicalized food culture and the body(ies) and normativities it participates to produce. Myriam is currently the coordinator of the media monitoring project for the international research group Ageing+Communication+Technologies (ACT) based in Concordia. She is also the coordinator of the Culture Populaire, Connaissance et Critique (CPCC) lab, at UdeM.