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A Big Fat Crisis: The Hidden Forces Behind the Obesity Epidemic — and How We Can End It
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A Big Fat Crisis: The Hidden Forces Behind the Obesity Epidemic — and How We Can End It

3.38  ·  Rating Details ·  118 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews

Obesity is the public health crisis of the twenty-first century. Over 150 million Americans are overweight or obese, and across the globe an estimated 1.5 billion are affected. In A Big Fat Crisis, Dr. Deborah A. Cohen has created a major new work that will transform the conversation surrounding the modern weight crisis. Based on her own extensive research, as well as the
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published December 24th 2013 by Nation Books (first published January 1st 2013)
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Carrie Rubin
Nov 08, 2015 Carrie Rubin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
A wonderful exploration about the forces behind obesity, with most emphasis on the food environment. What I particularly liked about this book was that the author gave specifics on how best to approach changing the food environment in order to reverse the overweight/obesity trend in the US (and elsewhere). Because what we've done so far is clearly not having much of an effect.
May 11, 2014 Heather rated it it was ok
I wavered between 2 and 3 stars on this one. Parts of it were interesting, other parts were over-the-top preachy. It started out well with a discussion of how we are wired to eat and our environment makes it extremely difficult for us to overcome that wiring. The science was a little weak, and some of the studies used as arguments just seemed pointless, like having people choose between a glue stick and a pack of M&M's.

The rest of the book was about how we need more regulations to make peop
David Kinchen
Dec 22, 2013 David Kinchen rated it really liked it
BOOK REVIEW: 'A Big Fat Crisis': Dr. Deborah A. Cohen Says It's Not Your Fault -- Entirely -- If You're Fat

Most books on the nation's obesity crisis -- which affects more than 150 million Americans, almost half the nation's population -- blame the individual for pigging out. Or they blame fast food restaurants like the ubiquitous McDonald's for "super-sizing" portions and our bellies and posteriors.

Call it the "Spurlock Syndrome" for Morgan Spurlock's documentary on obesity. McDonald's was in th
Sara E.
Dec 04, 2015 Sara E. rated it it was ok
Shelves: health, food-supply
Review of A Big Fat Crisis by Deborah A. Cohen, MD

I will let you know off the bat: I was not impressed with this book. In fact, it irked me. Let me start off with the good.

Dr. Cohen makes some valid points:
* The obesity epidemic is due in large part to the unhealthy food environment.
* Companies should not advertise unhealthy foods to children.
* Restaurants should make healthier meals available to consumers on a regular basis.
* Grocery stores should be redesigned to highlight healthy foods instea
Feb 22, 2017 Sarah rated it really liked it
I found this book to be extremely fascinating and compelling. I loved the research and knowledge contained within and learned a ton!
Feb 07, 2014 Jessica rated it it was amazing
Who's to blame for the obesity epidemic in the United States? Deborah Cohen, a medical doctor and public health researcher, examines the food environment and the psychology of impulse consumption. Her conclusion? We evolved to crave sugar, fat, and calories, which were scarce for most of human history, but now the glut of energy-dense and nutrient-empty foods in our society is making us sick. She concludes: "The food environment has become a tsunami. If it doesn’t drown us, it waterlogs even the ...more
Bonnie Samuel
Mar 20, 2014 Bonnie Samuel rated it liked it
Interesting ideas. Kind of pie in the sky, though. Americans being as independent and "it's all about individual responsibility" as we are, you'd have a heck of a time getting people to accept the idea of having the government regulate our food environment beyond food safety, even if it makes people healthier and lowers the cost of medical care. I can see this working in a progressive society like Denmark or Sweden, but it's a little too fantastic for the United States.
Jan 06, 2014 Tressa rated it it was ok
She made good points, but this isn't anything new. Yes, we are hard wired to eat. Yes, food manufacturers will do anything to get us to buy their product. Yes, we have an abundance of food. I don't need a MD to figure that out. I was looking for more chemistry rather than psychology. I also don't need the government in my shopping cart.
Mar 26, 2016 Becky rated it it was ok
I found Deborah A. Cohen's A Big Fat Crisis to be a compelling read. Did I agree with the book? Well, that's another story. First, I want to say that her approach is different from those I've read before, read recently I mean. Her approach is more psychological perhaps.

Cohen basically tries to persuade readers of two things: 1) that people who are obese are victims and they cannot possibly be held responsible for what they consume or how much they consume 2) that people who are obese are obese b
Jun 01, 2017 Emily rated it it was amazing
Great, great book that was right up my alley! So many nuggets of information and facts.
Chris Demer
Apr 17, 2014 Chris Demer rated it really liked it
This is a very readable and on-target book that addresses the crisis of obesity in today's world and the public health crisis that is on its way as a result.Deborah Cohen is a physician with a background in epidemiology. She provides statistical evidence that obesity decreases life expectancy and increases the risks of diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some types of cancers. Meanwhile-what do we do about it??

While it is easy to throw the responsibility for being overweight or obese onto those
Aug 05, 2014 Katie rated it it was ok
A look at the obesity epidemic with suggestions on what we can do about it, mostly circulating around government regulations to shrink restaurant portion sizes, remove candy displays at checkout, and increase usage of public parks for exercise.

Honestly, I'm on board with the government regulations, simply because I think this is a bigger crisis than people even realize right now. Just thinking about all the increased health care costs (which we will ALL PAY even if we are not obese) can be shock
Jo Ladzinski
Apr 06, 2015 Jo Ladzinski rated it really liked it
Shelves: physical-copy
Having worked at Cornell Food and Brand Lab for two years in my college career, a book that covers the obesity epidemic as a function of our environment rather than a weakness in individual's willpower was refreshing. Deborah Cohen has a wonderful, optimistic tone of voice for the future of America amidst this crisis. Her made good use of studies and took care in citing them--I find this missing in factual books of this nature. Her examples were relevant. I generally dislike the use of alcohol a ...more
Hailey Cleek
May 18, 2016 Hailey Cleek rated it it was amazing
While many works focus on issues of personal responsibility or attempt to moralize these issues in health, Cohen, instead, illuminates the food environment’s role in shaping the psychology of food and consumption. Cohen includes many helpful examples with conclusive policy directions, and while I do not necessarily agree with everything that she writes, I appreciated the opportunity to learn from her (particularly regarding issues of the limitations of conscious attention and the political/econo ...more
May 19, 2014 E rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This book presents an argument that is important to understand and not getting anywhere near enough attention in our "if you're unhealthy it's your own damn fault, put down the box of doughnuts" culture, namely, that our food environment sets people up to fail. This argument, then, puts the blame where it more appropriately belongs: on the food manufacturers, advertisers, supermarkets, and restaurants that push and push and push us to eat more, and more crap, than we really need. Sadly, although ...more
Jerry Smith
Apr 06, 2015 Jerry Smith rated it liked it
Shelves: food, 2015-read
Quite an interesting take on how and why we, as a culture, are fatter than we have ever been and continue to worsen in this regard. The line is basically that we need to quit focusing on obesity being a result of some form of character flaw such as the inability to resist temptation or some form of weakness, and lean more towards two things: we are wired to eat when food is in abundance, because in evolutionary terms this was a smart thing to do, and secondly that the current market for food in ...more
Jim Kahn
Mar 31, 2014 Jim Kahn rated it really liked it
The author presents a case for explaining how our culture's epidemic with obesity is due to the overabundance, ruthless marketing and the science of getting people to eat more than they need to. She reviews a multitude of studies indicating the subconscious effects of various situations and how we can be exploited by clever advertising to eat more and thus become obese.

She goes on to explain how the government should take collective action to impose regulations to combat obesity in the same way
Jan 15, 2014 Lisaal rated it liked it
Lots of great research. Premise that in order to solve the “fat crisis”, we need government regulation. Hmmmm... Parallels the pre-germ theory 19th century with today’s consumerist food culture. We limit alcohol and tobacco sales. Junk food should be the same.
-change the way food is marketed & sold - availability of high-calorie, low-nutrient foods, too-large portion sizes, and food advertising.
-People in our society do not have a chance to be healthy because we are bombarded with garbage.
Jan 05, 2015 Dinah rated it did not like it
I started out really liking this book. The first few chapters talked about brain function and how an individual faced with many choices every single day tends to choose the easiest, most comforting choices when it comes to food, especially towards the end of a long day. However, about half way through this book, the author started to blame global warming on obesity. Yup. We are fat because we eat too much red meat and since read meat comes from cows and cows emit carbon dioxide which threatens t ...more
Aug 11, 2014 Irene rated it it was ok
Heather said it better than I could: "My fear in regulating healthy foods is that I suspect the obesity epidemic was caused in part by really poor dietary guidelines set by the government in the first place." The basic premise of the book is that we can't help eating the junk food that manufacturers deliberately entice us with (so that they can make a profit); therefore the government has to regulate it for us. I certainly don't have any great love for food manufacturers who are inundating us wi ...more
Jul 28, 2014 Eleanor rated it it was amazing
Deborah Cohen has written a compelling book about how the food environment often works against us and nudges us toward obesogenic choices. Her clear, engaging writing style is filled with solid science. Many of the studies she cites are intriguing and surprising on their own, but she pulls them together into a comprehensive whole. The picture she paints allows the reader to see the food environment through the eyes of scientist who is concerned about the health of our nation and compassionate ab ...more
Gabriella Bugge
Mar 18, 2016 Gabriella Bugge rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I appreciated the unique view of the obesity epidemic as it was explained in this book. Cohen provides persuasive arguments for the need of government intervention in the food industry and outlines some great policies that I believe should be implemented. However, she also uses one too many analogies that I believe distract from her point and she also ignores a lot of outside factors, such as the inability for those in low-income areas to use their parks and sidewalks due to excessive crime rate ...more
Pat Herndon
Jun 01, 2014 Pat Herndon rated it really liked it
Well researched, yet surely controversial. Cohen examines the environmental conditions that lead a majority of Americans to be overweight. She places less blame on the individual than she does on an over abundant, affordable, food supply and the marketers and retailers who use techniques to constantly bombard us with easily made bad choices. She looks to environmental protection laws, clean water laws, public hygiene laws, regulation of alcohol sales and the passage of the ADA as models of regul ...more
Interesting information about how humans have evolved and the resulting difficulty with the overabundance of unhealthy food. Her solutions involve government regulation of the food environment. It only addresses the issue of weight when it talks about the health of Americans. I believe health involves many aspects of lifestyle that interact with weight that also need to be addressed to solve the obesity crisis. Many "normal" weight individuals are very unhealthy while many "overweight" individua ...more
Jan 28, 2014 Lindsay rated it liked it
Nothing groundbreaking here. However, she has a very readable style and I liked the ideas that she had for making it easier for people to make smarter choices at restaurants. One idea is to prohibit restaurants from charging patrons for sharing dishes. But in general she wrote of stuff I think most people know--portion sizes have gone up, and it's cheaper to get processed food than healthy stuff.
Feb 20, 2014 Jennifer rated it really liked it
I am giving it four stars because I think it's worth reading. I have learned a lot by reading it- for example only 7 extra calories per day can explain our average weight gain of 23 lbs. I definitely feel more aware of our food- pushing surroundings from having read this- which is exactly what I wanted- to feel refreshed and reinspired to continue calorie counting.
Cori McGraw
Aug 25, 2015 Cori McGraw rated it really liked it
While I don't necessarily agree with her proposed solutions to the obesity epidemic, I found that her discussion of some of the reasons for this widespread problem in the U.S. to be fresh and worth reading.
Nov 30, 2014 Andre rated it really liked it
Interesting and informative first half but the suggestions on how to mitigate and solve the obesity epidemic require quite a lot of changes to be done. Hence it is very likely to happen any time soon, especially in USA.
Jan 12, 2014 Stephanie rated it liked it
Some very interesting ideas on the obesity epidemic. However, since we can't even regulate gun control I am wary to think our government would even begin to pass any of these terrific legislative ideas.
Callie Rose Tyler
Jul 24, 2014 Callie Rose Tyler marked it as just-no
A call for more government thank you.
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