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Set against a background of continuing state, media and public concerns regarding obesity, this article examines the media event of the ‘Sinner Ladies’, in Rawmarsh, England. Between 2006 and 2008 three women sparked a controversy that illustrates not only the contradictions inherent in health promotion and surveillance, especially in relation to diet, parenting and care, but also the ways in which such debates touch upon older understandings of social class and locality. Healthy eating policies, including those that stress individual responsibility, need to be contextualised in the cultures and environments in which they are received. Drawing upon notions of health, place, inequality and celebrity, we argue that identity and history continue to play a key role in competing notions of care in relation to family and food.