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Fat Land

3.53  ·  Rating Details ·  1,949 Ratings  ·  158 Reviews
In this astonishing expose, journalist Greg Critser looks beyond the sensational headlines to reveal why nearly 60 percent of Americans are now overweight. Critser's sharp-eyed reportage and sharp-tongued analysis make for a disarmingly funny and truly alarming book. Critser investigates the many factors of American life -- from supersize to Super Mario, from high-fructose ...more
Paperback, 232 pages
Published June 24th 2004 by Penguin Books Ltd (first published January 14th 2003)
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The Great Gatsby by F. Scott FitzgeraldThe Diary of a Young Girl by Anne FrankJane Eyre by Charlotte BrontëThe Catcher in the Rye by J.D. SalingerThe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Rory's Book Club
112th out of 171 books — 88 voters
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Food-Related Non-Fiction
221st out of 762 books — 1,412 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jun 11, 2014 Sara rated it liked it
There were some good points made in this book about the childhood obesity epidemic in the United States. I enjoyed the first half of the book more so than the second half. The first half discussed the history of our food supply and key players in this history, plus a lot about how child rearing changed during the last generation. This book states the obvious many times but at the beginning of the book, I was still intrigued enough to keep reading.

The second half of the book is more technical, de
Jul 07, 2007 Adam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who love fast food
Want to know why America is fat? This book will tell you. Since I have read this book, I have eaten McDonald's once in the last year or so (and that was because I was drunk). Very interesting to see how much the country has changed in 60 years since the war. The book starts there, how with budget cuts to the P.E. department and importing cheap (and very fattening) substitutes for homegrown goods can really cause a whole nation to pack on the pounds.
Sep 03, 2007 Peggy rated it it was amazing
Well written book. The author writes about several reasons that have brought Americans to the obesity crisis that we face - from politics to school food programs to the way society views fatness throughout the past 30 years. He cites many studies, gives examples of programs that are work and why. I felt guilty for being sedentary while reading the book:-)
Jan 09, 2014 Bookguide rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
I read this many years ago, and have been telling people about it ever since because it's amazing how many people don't know why America had an epidemic of obesity first. Ten years ago, everyone in Europe was laughing at fat Americans, blaming the epidemic on their super-sized portions and assuming lazy people just ate too much fast food. Now the same thing is happening, firstly in the UK and now in the rest of Europe. Many people are mystified. The answer has been around for years, but the focu ...more
Jul 14, 2007 Nicole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Book lives up to its title, using current stats, empirical data, and lucid explanation as to why America is so massive. Similar to Fast Food Nation, and Spurlock's Supersize Me in intent, Fatland is broader in investigation than the former, less visceral than the latter, and the result is an even-handed account that examines the multiple, often over-lapping factors, many of them political, feeding the fat epidemic.

This book covers the usual subjects--lack of PE in the public schools, sedentary
Jan 19, 2009 Katie rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Every American, big or small
I don't understand where I got on this kick with these industry-expose books, I seem to find them utterly fascinating, even if they're about something I already know. I guess it's the exact why and how and history of what we all know to be true that holds the draw for me. I already knew the funeral industry was a scam, but seeing exactly how the ruse is perpertuated in Mitfords' "The American Way Of Death" kept me chewing until the very last page.

Greg Critser's "Fat Land" is no exception. Aside
Jan 17, 2009 Abby rated it it was ok
This book has total false advertising. On the back, it says that "reading this book will take ten pounds right off of you", or something like that. (I probably shouldn't use quotes if I don't actually want to get up off the couch and get the real quote, huh?)

I read this book slowly, over at least a couple months. During that time, I gained at LEAST ten pounds. Yes, I am pregnant. But whatever. I was hoping the book had magic powers that would at least keep me even on the scale.

So, the book was i
Mar 16, 2008 Patrick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Ok, I let this book linger for far too long, partially because of busy times at work. However, everytime I picked it up, I couldn't put it back down. Sure, a lot of the information in this book has been covered in other more popular books and films ("Fast Food Nation," "Super Size Me," etc.) but this is the first book that really looks at how all the external influences overlap.

For example, instead of just blaming the fat problem on fast food, this book also looks at how our diet (what makes up
Much of the information in this books was redundant and repeated in slightly different form in each chapter. The chapters were far too long, which is how you cram 7 chapters in to over 100 pages, and yet despite being comparatively short the writing is dry and took me a while to plod through. This book is also very left biased (please, nanny government, fix the fat people for me!) and very anti-fat biased despite ample research that it is the sugar and refined grains in our diet, not naturally o ...more
Jack Blanchard
Jan 05, 2014 Jack Blanchard rated it it was ok
Greg Critser’s Fat Land was an informative novel, but lacked creativity and excitement to keep the reader focused and interested. The novel was all about the growth of obesity as an epidemic in the United States. There were some interesting focuses that the book addressed. However, it was boring to read because there were a plethora of statistics and historical references rather than in depth commentary and opinions about the issue.
The book talked about the decline of physical education as part
Feb 08, 2008 Nic rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Americans who eat
I read this after "Fast Food Nation" and it's a great companion piece. I learned things I hadn't known about how US foreign policy under Nixon is responsible for two common ingredients in the American diet: hydrogenated palm oil and high fructose corn syrup. I love learning about history that took place during my childhood that I was unaware of, like astonishing inflation in the price of food in the 70s. Who knew?

I assert that it is impossible to read this book without changing your diet. My boy
Aug 04, 2009 Missjgray rated it really liked it
This interesting and well-written book does more than the usual, "Fast food is evil" ranting. Critser says hard things about fast food and the processing of it, but this book is most interesting and valuable for the other reasons he discusses (with an amazing number of footnotes) for the putting and keeping on of American poundage.

Critser writes with a great deal of genuine interest and compassion. He makes a solid case for the lower classes and minority groups which he says are at the greatest
Mar 18, 2009 Kaila rated it did not like it
The idea of the book was great; explore all of the myriad reasons why Americans have become morbidly obese as a whole and possibly what could be done to prevent this from further damaging future generations. By the time that I got about 100 pages into it the only aspects of the issue that the book had covered were advertising, advertising in schools and school funding. I kept picking the book up and then putting it back down after about five pages when I finally decided to give it up and mail it ...more
Angie Fehl
Apr 06, 2015 Angie Fehl rated it liked it
Critser talks about how food production has changed over the generations, from back in our grandparents' day when food was food, pretty much straight from the ground to the table, to today with the addition of dangerous chemicals, preservatives and all that other junk pumped into our food, leading our country (along with an increased sedentary lifestyle and cheap, quickly and easily produced fatty foods) to create a nation full of bigguns. It's pretty interesting stuff. Critser also discusses so ...more
Feb 13, 2015 dejah_thoris rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Over a decade old now, Critser's book may have some dated statistics, but he does a good job of pulling together the threads of our culture, our economy, and our desires to explain why we've gotten this fat. Aside from critiquing similar publications of the era like a favorite of mine, Eat Fat, there's not many surprises in this book for those familiar with the problem, but I managed to learn a few new things. For instance, palm oil is the HFCS of the fat additives at 45% saturated fat with lard ...more
Jennifer Sykora jaenke
Good read on how the Standard American Diet has changed with the influence of Agriculture, political interest, generational upbringing, and technology. At first, it was very difficult for me to get into this book because, to me, it was just a lot of fact reading. One of the chapters really hit my interest and then I could not put the book down. With that being said, I think I will re-read in the future.
May 26, 2016 Shelley rated it really liked it
While I hadn't intended to start another book about fast food and obesity in America, (I was reading Fast Food Nation when I started this one), I actually found it to be a great accompaniment. While FFN was more about the economic, governmental, environmental, and ethical tolls the fast food industry has on America, Fat Land focused more on HOW different industries infiltrated our homes, TVs, schools, and government to get us on the bandwagon to eat, eat, eat, and not exercise. I was particularl ...more
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 we
Jan 30, 2015 Stephanie rated it really liked it
This is not the kind of book I'd normally pick up (I'm more Jane Austen, less Michael Moore) and I was pleasantly surprised by the ease of reading this material. It's not a lot of witch hunting and blaming everything on 'evil corporations', and contains a very interesting set of facts and stories around how our food has changed over the last few decades.

The first half to 2/3 of the book held my interest very closely and I came away with many new items of knowledge to share at dinner parties and
Jan 25, 2009 Becky rated it really liked it
It'll get you looking at labels if you aren't already, not to mention you'll never look at fast food the same again--a real eye opener...
Rebecca Curtis
So I have to just say that I was a little apprehensive to read this, but I have to say I really enjoyed this book. I am not a reader of health books, this one is such an easy read that was so full of factual information that I didn't even mind. I have been doing an evaluation of my health over the last year and after reading this I went through my cupboards and made a plan to be healthier. It really is shocking how much information about the food we eat is not provided to us and we have to activ ...more
Mary Karpel-Jergic
Horrendous topic. I see enormously fat people everywhere I go in England. Thirty years ago, I visited Florida and saw this for the first time. Now it's here. Critser charts the growth of obesity in the US but it has resonance for all. Interesting analysis but scary scenario.
Poverty. Class. Income. Over and over these emerge as the key determinants of obesity.

Stop eating ready meals. Cook meals at home from scratch so that you can exercise nutrient control. Know what is going into the food that
Sep 29, 2011 Ma rated it it was amazing
This book changed my life!
Barbara M
Jul 06, 2015 Barbara M rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The author selected a title for this book to grab the reader's attention - "Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World."
It's an excellent expose on why Americans have gained so much weight over the years and the ill effects of obesity on individuals and our society.

The book is heavily researched and I learned a lot reading it. The author says that Americans are the fattest people on earth except for the inhabitants of a few South Seas islands. About 61% of Americans are overw
Apr 05, 2009 Liss rated it liked it
Shelves: food
I've never viewed fat as an issue of social/economic class before. Critser opened my eyes to this reality and I'm grateful. I also like the way he connects rising sugar/corn syrup intake to our increasing problem with weight. Where I think he goes a bit astray is linking obesity with lack of exercise. Current research suggests that exercise is not a prominent factor--or perhaps even a factor at all--in our nation's weight troubles. Rather, our typical national diet is inducing a metabolic state ...more
Jun 26, 2013 Maria rated it it was ok
I read this book back in May and am only just now reviewing it (and I don't have access to the original), so take everything I say with a grain of salt.

Firstly, this book made me angry. The fact that one group of humans is more concerned by profit than the greater good infuriated me. Basically, this and the fact that schools have little budget (and everyone is overly concerned by kids' self-esteem, thus lowering minimum fitness levels? <- not sure about this),

Secondly, this book made me thin
Amy Moritz
May 18, 2012 Amy Moritz rated it liked it
Shelves: reviews
I know, I know. This book is nearly a decade old now, yet somehow it has sat, unread, on my bookshelf for quite a few years. The research in some parts is dated, though not necessarily disproven. I found I breezed through the book which meant it was an easy read, though I felt like the connections could have been stronger and the research with each chapter spelled out a bit better. (Then again, it's easy to critique and difficult to write an engaging book that is also well-researched.) Overall, ...more
Spook Harrison
Aug 08, 2013 Spook Harrison rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Spook by: Fat Chick's Guide to Life
I actually agree with the pres. of the Amer. Diabetes Association in that this book is "A must-read for every American parent," as she says on the back of the book. I was surprised to read that (in 2003) McDonald's goal was to get people in their restaurant eating fast food twenty times a month (p. 28), that in the same time frame American mothers were teaching their children basically opposite lessons than those French mothers taught (p. 37), that simply grazing itself, not necessarily grazing ...more
Dan Burke
Fat Land by Greg Critser

FAT LAND is a novel that focuses on the American crisis of obesity. As Critser blatantly points out, "American's are the fattest people in the world," and he explicitly lists all the factors to obesity in this piece. A former "fatso" who decided to shed the weight not after his wife and physician told him to do so, but when a rude stranger told him to watch out and used derogatory words refering to his weight. The author exposes the sly marketing of companies by using sup
Kym Chapple
Jan 01, 2012 Kym Chapple rated it liked it
Fascinating examination of the role class plays in America's obesity epidemic and the attendant epidemics of Diabetes 2 etc.

"As the sociologist Edward Shorter has noted, in contrast to its European counterpart, the American family was "born modern". From early on it was nuclear, seeking as it did to withdraw itself from the meddling of the traditional extended family. At its centre was not a child in the European tradition - essentially just one more actor in an extended community - but rather
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