In this eye-opening book, New York Times science writer Gina Kolata shows that our society's obsession with dieting and weight loss is less about keeping trim and staying healthy than about money, power, trends, and impossible ideals.
Rethinking Thin is at once an account of the place of diets in American society and a provocative critique of the weight-loss industry. Kolata's account of four determined dieters' progress through a study comparing the Atkins diet to a conventional low-calorie one becomes a broad tale of science and society, of social mores and social sanctions, and of politics and power.
Rethinking Thin asks whether words like willpower are really applicable when it comes to eating and body weight. It dramatizes what it feels like to spend a lifetime struggling with one's weight and fantasizing about finally, at long last, getting thin. It tells the little-known story of the science of obesity and the history of diets and dieting—scientific and social phenomena that made some people rich and thin and left others fat and miserable. And it offers commonsense answers to questions about weight, eating habits, and obesity—giving us a better understanding of the weight that is right for our bodies.
New York Times reporter Kolata may be the best writer around covering the science of health. Here she offers an eye-opening book that questions all our received wisdom about why we get fat and the health hazards of those extra pounds. In chapters equally entertaining and dismaying, Kolata (Flu) traces the history of dieting fads back to the 19th century; discusses our changing ideas about the ideal body (thinner and thinner); and, most importantly, explains how genetic and biochemical understanding has (at least among researchers) replaced the view of obesity as a lack of self-control. Most dramatic is Kolata's recounting of Jeff Friedman's groundbreaking search at Rockefeller University for the "satiety factor," a hormone he called leptin that tells our brains when we're full. The science alternates with moving chapters in which Kolata follows a group of people in a weight-loss study who are trying desperately to get thin a quest that, as Kolata makes increasingly clear is sadly futile. In her final and perhaps most surprising chapter, Kolata blasts those in the obesity industry such as Jenny Craig and academic obesity research centers who are invested in promoting the idea that overweight is unhealthy and diet and exercise are effective despite a raft of evidence to the contrary. This book will change your thinking about weight, whether you struggle with it or not.
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This book shares a multitude of studies done centering around the topic of obesity and dieting. However being an exercise and sports science major I find a lot of the conclusions stated in this book to be somewhat incorrect or false all together. It basically says that dieting is a waste of time ( to an extent it is ). However this book does address the issue that people need to make a life change in order to sustain weight loss or maintenance and for that I grant 3 stars. Kind of boring, but if you are into the dieting seen and want a different prospective, give it a read.