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The Cure for Everything: Untangling Twisted Messages about Health, Fitness, and Happiness

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  616 Ratings  ·  108 Reviews
A bold look at how commercial agendas distort the real science behind health and fitness studies and misinform the public about how to live a healthy life
Researcher Timothy Caulfield talks with experts in medicine, pharmaceuticals, health and fitness, and even tries out many of the health fads himself, in order to test their scientific validity, dispel the myths, and il
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published April 24th 2012 by Beacon Press (first published December 16th 2011)
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Sep 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: medical
Timothy Caulfield is a Canadian health policy academic who took it upon himself to cut through the haze of popular information about wellness to get to the core of what we really do and don't know about our health.

In this well researched and readable book, he succeeds providing solid information about what things like exercise and diet can and can't do for the body and shows us how to focus on the actions that are really going to make the most difference in our lives, using himself as a humble a
May 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book did exactly what I thought it would for me. Reinforced my feelings that people see, select and interpret health and fitness information through preconceived beliefs, values, previous outcomes, and fears.

As a data freak myself, I place the maximization on my health because in my lifetime I have, and continue to have numerous health issues. Some pretty major, some minor. Once you fall into that bucket, you tend to fight like a boxer and search for answers that work for you.

I inhaled eve
Jan 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: social-issues
SCIENCE! I love that the author is Canadian, and includes experts, statistics and other information which is relevant to our country (most books reference the USA or UK exclusively, and not everything translates over to this country). This is, of course, in addition to information gleaned from USA & UK sources.
Oct 17, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The theme of this book is to look through all of the hype surrounding healthy lifestyles and see what science actually recommends. I saw it as sort of a mixture of Gina Kolata's books Ultimate Fitness and Rethinking Thin, at least as far as topic is concerned.

Caulfield first tackles the subject of fitness - what it means, and how to "get fit." To do this he speaks with personal trainers and reflects on his exercise experience as a sprinter and biker. I was hoping to see more of a critical look,
Jodi Graham
Dec 30, 2012 rated it did not like it
Dear Mr. Caulfield,

I just recently finished reading The Cure for Everything and wanted to express some major concerns I have with the “Remedies” chapter.
With any book I choose to read, I always hope for an open and un-biased perspective, which this book regrettably did not have. There are many over-generalizations regarding alternative therapies, the most startling being that it is related to religion, myth and has only placebo effects. Comments such as “…lazy thinking underpines alternative med
Sep 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Thank you Timothy Caulfield!

You should read this book.

It explains everything, like it says. OK, maybe not everything... but this guy is a pretty darn well-respected science/health editor up in Canada, and he's distilled a crap-load of research down into this very nice book, just for you.

It will make you a little bit sad, because a good part of the message is sort of "stop eating so much" and "everything you think about exercising is wrong," which isn't what we want to hear. But it makes tons of
Feb 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a great book! Four chapters, full of common sense information supposed by science. He's preaching to the converted here - but I did learn a few new things - like stretching - not so important. Who knew? Loved the remedy chapter - even being a health care provider I have always been suspicious of both CAM and big pharma. The genetics chapter was my least favorite, but overall think this book is worth a read by anyone interested in health - and that should be all of us!
Teena in Toronto
Timothy Caulfield was the closing speaking at a pensions and benefits conference I attended in October. I found him interesting and entertaining so thought I'd read some of his books.

This book is about health and about the science associated with health. There is a lot of information available to us about what to eat, whether to cleanse, whether to take supplements, how to exercise, whether you get your meridians centered, and more. In this book, Caulfield seeks to answer the questions about the
Aug 04, 2012 rated it liked it
"Science is the great antidote to the poison of enthusiasm and superstition." - Adam Smith. In this book Timothy Caulfield attempts to find the science to look at the idea of being fit and healthy as well as genetic testing, CAM or alternative medicine and Big Pharma.

Looking at current research he discovers that while vigorous exercise like interval and strength training do provide you with a lot of health benefits, you will not lose weight from exercising. Moderate exercise is not enough to rea
Modern Girl
It was greatly enjoyable and well written and made me think. But it definitely did not cover enough and it certainly did not cover everything. I would like liked to have seen an analysis and debunking of "superfoods" , more information on herbal supplements particularly Valerian root (St. John's Wort was mentioned and people usually mention these two as a pair).

Some ideas were criticized without evidence, and I want evidence. Please explain the difference between the "cleansing" and "detoxify"
Apr 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I recommend this book. Caulfield writes about all the things we're told to do to improve our health (diet! work out! acupuncture! homeopathy!) and does his best to separate the evidence from the hype. He's tough an alternative medicine (rightly, in my view) but he also does an excellent job discussing the biases that can creep into mainstream medicine, for example how drug companies bias the research that is conducted and published. It's an engaging read, with a good mix of data and personal sto ...more
May 28, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012
There was a lot to like about this book. First off, the writer is from Edmonton, so there are lots of reference to researchers and writers from the U of A, which I really enjoyed. It's nice to read a book that references the city you live in.

I really enjoyed the debunking of fitness and food, but wasn't that thrilled about the section on genes, since I have to write about gene technology a lot for work. I also had a hard time with some of the facts that he gives in the book. He claims that yoga
May 24, 2012 rated it liked it
Good review of the current health and fitness industries, from big pharma to fitness trainers. Amusing enough to keep me going through the more boring topics. I'm very familiar with these fields, and I thought the balance and judgement was, if depressing, correct.

One quibble was the title -- there is nothing in this book about happiness! I know authors may have little control over the title, but this is really inexcusable. I was looking forward to a review of the current research and thinking ab
Sep 07, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was ok. I liked the distilled message that the only thing we all need to do to stay healthy is to exercise regularly and vigorously and eat lots of vegetables and fruits, not a lot of meat, and NO sugar, salt, or fats--easier said than done. Coffee? ok. Wine? Beer? ok. Well ALL RIGHT!
Kristina Weber, Ph.D.
Mar 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: wellness
I love how well he cuts through the bs. Definitely gave me food for thought, and made me feel a little foolish about questionable fitness purchases I've made over the years.
Nov 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The cure for everything??? Media sources speculate it's possible to be thin, sexy, and ultra healthy if I eat a specific fad diet like Paleo, work out with a specific "expert" trainer with one very specific niche plan, pump myself full of supplements, test my genes, listen to my naturopath and take pharmaceutical drugs backed by that interesting recent drug study plastered on the news. It is....a whole lot of hokum. Caulfield explores the science and for fun conducts the poorly designed study of ...more
Mar 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
It was at first engaging, then became boring. Only got about 2/3 through it.
Lisa  Shamchuk
Feb 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
I thoroughly enjoyed the chapters on diet and exercise, but only skimmed the rest. This book is well researched and includes information from the latest scientific studies, statistics, and expert interviews. Caulfield does a great job of infusing his humour (sarcastic, self deprecating, etc) throughout the text and this made it an enjoyable read. I was super annoyed by his lack of academic citation for the studies/articles/statistics etc mentioned, but Caulfield does include a disclaimer about t ...more
Dec 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013-reads, health
This was an interesting book. It debunked a lot of myths, however in places it is a bit dry to read. I do feel like I learned a lot. It's one of the few books that I've read recently that I actually took notes as I read, as I am interested in getting healthy.
A few quotes below:

Fitness is a commercial enterprise--designed to sell sex and flat abs. the emphasis on sex and sexines creates expectations that undermine the health goals associated with exercise.

People want to look good and they equate
Cathy Douglas
Jan 20, 2013 rated it liked it
Maybe I had mistaken expectations for this book, but I was hoping for more science. Instead, it's written in a more self-helpish way than I would have liked. Part of this is the decision to forgo footnotes, instead putting all the actual studies and books Caulfield relies on in a long references section in the back of the book. (And I'm not kidding about long. When I finished the actual text of the book, my Kindle told me I was at just about 70%. The acknowledgments and index made up about 10% o ...more
May 26, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: library-books
Knowing that the only way I am going to lose weight and keep it off is to eat under 2000 calories a day for the rest of my life and exercise like a madwoman is extremely depressing. There are no magic elixirs, dream diets, or other options. Even if I was going to subject myself to some kind of surgery the fat would just come back. What I should have done is NOT let the fat on in the first place. Sigh.

So, although this lays it out in a matter of fact way, and the news is disheartening, I figure a
Trish Paton
Jan 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Caulfield takes a laudable approach here - he doesn't just collect, review and repackage "the info", he actually tests it out and reports on his experience as well as on the science. Too often we get biased info on the science (try the remedies chapter to be seriously depressed about medical, and especially pharmaceutical, research), testimonials without science for so many alternative treatments (diet, exercise AND remedies chapters), and hype across the board. So for a change, you get analysis ...more
Ann Frost
Sep 05, 2015 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book. A couple of critiques though. First, although the title talks about happiness, the book does not explicitly address the happiness literature, which I thought it might (and that I was looking forward to). Oh well. The second critique I had is that it presents this "fact" that is clearly becoming the new "truth" that exercise does not lead to weight loss. I just cannot believe this. When calories out > calories in, how can there be no weight loss?? OMG, I have to constantly ...more
Cathryn Wellner
Dec 01, 2015 rated it liked it
I found this a thoroughly enjoyable read, much if it reiterating what I have read elsewhere over the years. Caulfield debunks much of what is taken as gospel in the health and fitness fields. I did see his biases showing all the way through. We are all the product of our experiences and beliefs so that is not a criticism, more an observation. His conclusion, that diet and exercise are the most reliable pathways to health, is one I wish more health and science writers promoted.

Where the book mis
Byron Wright
Jun 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A straightforward review of health and fitness from a practical perspective. This book is written by an academic, but through the book he lives the advice as he reviews the scientific literature. This makes the book practical and personal. Much the same way you might prefer advice about something from a friend relating their experience over an academic paper.

I have to say that much of the content in the book confirmed my own preexisting biases. However, seeing someone lay out the evidence got me
Oct 17, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: open-minded people
For me it was a hard read, mainly because I continuously agreed with the authors plea that I should trust nothing; so I did, including him. The author of this book plays the angle that states: everyone has an angle, its all about seeing the truth behind their lies, yet I found that much of the information, tips, evidence, and such that he provides is already out "there." Honestly, nothing surprised me and there was nothing with in the 269 pages that I haven't heard or read about already. That al ...more
Researcher Timothy Caulfield talks with experts in medicine, pharmaceuticals, health, and fitness, and even tries out many of the health fads himself, in order to test their scientific validity, dispel the myths, and illuminate the path to better health. However, he doesn't (in the index) cite PCRM or vegetarian or vegan diets (messages not twisted), AND HE DOES CITE VEGAN MD formerly FROM HARVARD Dr. Mark Berman on "optimistic bias" (tendency to overrate one's invulnerability to risks). NOTE th ...more
Shelly Davis
May 18, 2013 rated it liked it
Sometimes I think of fitness fanatics on the same level as used car salesmen (why that's a bad thing, I'm not sure. Every used car salesman I've ever encountered has been very professional and I've been pleased with my purchases through them. No matter, the comparison has a universal negative connotation.)

Back to the fitness's overwhelming to read all the different "get fit quick" messages out there. Multiple Facebook friends and acquaintances are promoting various shake products o
Mar 18, 2013 rated it liked it
Interesting read for those health conscious attempting to come to grips with what keeps one healthy. The author attempts to debunk all the myths and misinformation that's prevalent in our society where healthy living or lack there of is one of the 21st century's greatest challenges. In an aging demographic with the younger generations being some of the unhealthiest on record there will always be a need for doctors and scientists to remind us what is at stake. Overall the author does a good job h ...more
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Timothy Caulfield is a Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy and a Professor in the Faculty of Law and the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta. He has been the Research Director of the Health Law Institute at the University of Alberta since 1993. Over the past several years he has been involved in a variety of interdisciplinary research endeavours that have allowed him to ...more
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