Fat Land

Fat Land

How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World

Book - 2003
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What in American society has changed so dramatically that nearly 60 percent of us are now overweight, plunging the nation into what the surgeon general calls an "epidemic of obesity"? Greg Critser engages every aspect of American life - class, politics, culture, and economics - to show how we have made ourselves the second fattest people on the planet (after South Sea Islanders).

Fat Land highlights the groundbreaking research that implicates cheap fats and sugars as the alarming new metabolic factor making our calories stick and shows how and why children are too often the chief metabolic victims of such foods. No one else writing on fat America takes as hard a line as Critser on the institutionalized lies we've been telling ourselves about how much we can eat and how little we can exercise. His expose of the Los Angeles schools' opening of the nutritional floodgates in the lunchroom and his examination of the political and cultural forces that have set the bar on American fitness low and then lower, are both discerning reporting and impassioned wake-up calls.

Disarmingly funny, Fat Land leaves no diet book - including Dr. Atkins's - unturned. Fashions, both leisure and street, and American-style religion are subject to Critser's gimlet eye as well. Memorably, Fat Land takes on baby-boomer parenting shibboleths - that young children won't eat past the point of being full and that the dinner table isn't the place to talk about food rules - and gives advice many families will use to lose.

Critser's brilliantly drawn futuristic portrait of a Fat America just around the corner and his all too contemporary foray into the diabetes ward of a major children's hospital make Fat Land a chilling but brilliantly rendered portrait of the cost in human lives - many of them very young lives - of America's obesity epidemic.
Publisher: Boston, MA : Houghton Mifflin Co., c2003
ISBN: 9780618164721
Branch Call Number: 362.19639 CRITSER
Characteristics: vii, 232 p. : ill. ; 22 cm


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FindingJane Jul 25, 2014

This book was written over a decade ago but it remains just as pertinent now as in 2003. Just take a look around you when you have a spare moment. Look at the people passing on the streets, sitting in restaurants or coffee shops. Check out some of the neighborhoods with lower-income residents. You’ll see it’s true. America has become a nation of overweight hogs. But this book isn’t a diet book. It digs deep into our history to find the sources of our obsession with weight, both weight loss and weight gain, and turns up a lot of disturbing information. Weight is more than just a personal issue; whether people are fat or thin has been of concern to everyone from diet gurus to the politicos in office. All sorts of topics are related to obesity: consumerism, medicine, sex, politics, religion, society, psychology, science and scholastics, to name a few. This book is excellent on giving the skinny (sorry, couldn’t resist) on their significance and their relevance to the title issue. It also includes a short story about a very scary future that lies in wait if matters aren't brought under control. In short, this is an excellent book about a very old problem, providing insight in easy-to-understand language. Whether or not you’ve had difficulties bringing your weight to a manageable level, it’s a book any concerned American should read.

Apr 21, 2014

Critser is on a mission to convince the reader of the horrible impacts of poor eating habits stemming from fast foods and of limited exercise on the current obesity crisis.
He does a good job of describing the economic, societal and cultural elements which have all contributed to this state: from cheap eats made from unhealthy ingredients to cuts in physical education programs, there is a convergence of issues which have led to huge weight gains throughout the US.
There are some weaknesses: a vague attempt at the genetics and biology of weight gain (which did nothing to convince me), a gross exaggeration of 'future man combating excessive weight' and the esthetics whereby men and women prefer their lean counterparts (while ignoring cultural canons), but generally the message is clear: the poorer you are, the more likely you are to be fat.
Like all one-sided presentations, this book fails to turn to other, more successful, cultures like European ones (especially France which has tremendous success with its five fruits and vegetables campaign) but I found the conclusions and next steps solid with some innovative and optimistic conclusions. Ultimately only education and access to healthy foods will help reshape mentalities, a process that will be slow.


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