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Fat Politics: The Real Story behind America's Obesity Epidemic

by J. Eric Oliver (Author)



Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly
It's not obesity, but the panic over obesity, that's the real health problem,
argues this scintillating contrarian study of the evergreen subject of American
gluttony and sloth. Political scientist Oliver condemns what he feels is a
self-interested "public health establishment"-obesity researchers seeking
federal funding, pharmaceutical and weight-loss companies peddling diet drugs
and regimens, bariatric surgeons and other health-care providers angling for
insurance reimbursement-for spuriously characterizing fatness as a disease. He
debunks the dubious science and alarmist PR that fuels their campaign, taking on
arbitrary Body-Mass Index standards that slot even Michael Jordan in the
overweight category, state-by-state maps of obesity rates that make fatness look
like a contagion spreading over the countryside, and flimsy research studies
that vastly exaggerate the danger and costs of weight gain. Oliver also examines
American attitudes towards obesity, probing the abhorrence of fatness implicit
in the Protestant ethic and, less plausibly, tying our contemporary feminine
ideal of the emaciated supermodel to a confluence of sociobiology and the
economics of the urban sexual marketplace. Arguing that fatness is perfectly
compatible with fitness, he contends that scapegoating obesity drives Americans
to experiment with dangerous crash diets, appetite suppressants and weight-loss
surgeries, while distracting us from underlying harmful changes in the American
lifestyle-mainly our incessant snacking on junk food and shunning of exercise
and physical activity, of which weight gain is perhaps merely a "benign
symptom." Oliver provides a lucid, engaging critique of obesity research and a
shrewd analysis of the socioeconomic and cultural forces behind it. The result
is a compelling challenge to the conventional wisdom about our bulging
waistlines. Photos.

Review
"An extended polemic against the causal association of overweight and ill
health. Ascrib[ing] to weight loss what might be better attributed to the
life-style changes that produce weight loss is, Oliver claims, 'like saying
whiter teeth produced by the elimination of smoking reduces the incidence of
lung cancer.'"--The New Yorker

"Fat Politics skewers the conventional wisdom on obesity. Beautifully written
and exhaustively researched, it is impossible to read this book without having
your view of fat forever changed. I absolutely loved this book." --Steven D.
Levitt, Professor of Economics, University of Chicago; author of Freakonomics: A
Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything

"It's not obesity, but the panic over obesity, that's the real health problem,
argues this scintillating contrarian study of the evergreen subject of American
gluttony and sloth.... Oliver provides a lucid, engaging critique of obesity
research and a shrewd analysis of the socioeconomic and cultural forces behind
it. The result is a compelling challenge to the conventional wisdom about our
bulging waistlines."--Publishers Weekly

"Fat Politics is one of those rare books that manages to turn all your
conventional ideas and easy assumptions on their heads, while somehow
maintaining a probing, reasonable, and entertaining tone. Anyone who holds
strong opinions--professional or personal--about American's obesity epidemic is
going to have to grapple with this book." --Stephen Johnson, author of
Everything Bad is Good For You: How Today's Popular Culture is Actually Making
Us Smarter

"Excellent."--marginalrevolution.com

"Eric Oliver's book debunks almost every conventional theory that causally
relates obesity to diseases and early death. It will infuriate countless obesity
researchers, weight-loss doctors, and the food, diet, and pharmaceutical
industries. Whether or not you agree with all of his critiques, one thing is
indisputable: the entire field badly needs a good shakeup." --Jerome P.
Kassirer, M.D., Editor-in-Chief Emeritus, New England Journal of Medicine, and
author of On The Take: How Medicine's Complicity with Big Business Can Endanger
Your Health

"A damning indictment of a culture awash in the paradox of too much choice, the
shame of too much consumption, and the fear of a moral vacuum.... In one
well-argued, boldly titled chapter after another, Oliver advances his view that
we have made fatness 'a scapegoat for all our ills' and explores how we harm
ourselves by doing so."--Daphne Merkin, Elle Magazine

"In Fat Politics, Eric Oliver examines America's ongoing search for weapons of
body mass destruction and reveals that the emperors of the current fat hysteria
aren't wearing any clothes. This is an essential book for understanding the
leading moral panic of our time. Fat Politics provides a particularly compelling
analysis of the economic factors that have helped produce the current panic over
fat. Fat Politics is the latest illustration of what happens when an academic
whose work is not actually funded by the weight-loss industry takes a look at
the evidence regarding the relationship between weight and health."--Paul
Campos, Professor of Law, University of Colorado, and author of The Obesity Myth


Product Details

Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA; 1 edition (September 14, 2006)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0195313208

 

 

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