Moral Fiber: Breakfast as a Symbol of ‘a Good Start’ in an Australian Obesity Intervention

Megan Warin, Tanya Zivkovic, Vivienne Moore, Paul Ward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


What are the symbolic meanings of breakfast in the context of one of Australia’s largest childhood obesity intervention programs? Utilizing a range of theoretical insights into the morality of food and eating and the anthropology of food, we trace how breakfast is packaged and promoted to families in an Australian community as a ‘healthy start’ to the day. Through ethnographic and historic investigation, we argue that eating breakfast and certain types of breakfast foods are symbolic of a classed, healthy lifestyle pattern, embodying parental knowledge and bodily regulation to routinely structure daily life. In communities where poverty and unemployment are harsh realities, well-intentioned programs that encourage people to eat a healthy breakfast are encoded with an assemblage of moral values—of knowledge, foods, families, and times and spaces—that are often difficult to reconcile with the wider sociocultural context in which many people live.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-230
Number of pages14
JournalMedical Anthropology: Cross Cultural Studies in Health and Illness
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Bodily regulation
  • ethnography
  • moral values
  • obesity interventions
  • socio-economic disadvantage


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