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Fat Land

3.47  ·  Rating details ·  2,610 Ratings  ·  169 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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Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
When this book first came out in 2003, it was an eye-opener, and I can see why. Critser traces the roots of how so many Americans became so obese, and it's a complicated maze of changing diet fads, changing child-rearing ideas, fast food conniving, school lunch deterioration, families who don't have time to sit down to a meal or who eat out all the time, the invention of high-fructose corn syrup, food politics, a bit of genetics, and more. I have to admit, I'm one of the obese, though I've been ...more
May 23, 2014 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
Jun 23, 2007 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.
Aug 29, 2007 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 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
Nov 29, 2008 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
Jul 03, 2007 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
Aug 14, 2008 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
Jun 11, 2007 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
Aug 13, 2017 rated it liked it
In Fatland, Crister traces America's obesity epidemic to Richard Nixon. Earl Butz, Nixon’s secretary of Agriculture initiated a new free trade policy to reverse declining farm incomes and rising consumer prices. The policy change coincided with Japan pioneering high fructose corn syrup and Malaysia making palm oil commercially viable. These three ingredients made Americans fat.

During the 1980s fast food restaurants discovered customers would pay for value and returned for larger sizes. Fullness
Jack Blanchard
Nov 25, 2013 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
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
Feb 08, 2008 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
Jul 27, 2009 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 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
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.
Jan 25, 2009 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...
Sep 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book changed my life!
Jun 20, 2018 rated it liked it
The thing I liked about this book was the author examined the issue on its own terms without revealing any agenda other than concern for the shocking fact that most Americans are now overweight or obese and this is associated with a whole raft of negative health outcomes for the individuals in question. For example, in what could be interpreted as a shot at the pro-business right, he reveals how big processed food companies maximize their profits by doing things to food that make it much higher ...more
Oct 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: health-fitness
I thought this included a lot of good historical information showing what things contributed to rise of obesity in the United States. I was especially interested in the rise of convenience foods and eating away from home, which contributed/s to a much higher overall calorie intake. I was also surprised that snacking is a relatively new thing, as it's so commonplace today.

I have seen information that also shows how the low-fat dietary recommendations of the US government play into obesity, so I w
Aug 01, 2017 rated it it was ok
The idea wasn't bad but I think there's more to the obesity epidemic than what he suggests. For example we all know that to be healthy we need to exercise and eat less, but why don't we do it? Addiction to fatty foods, self-destructive behavior, etc. but these aren't mentioned. And he fat shames quite a bit with very little focused on a solution (other than for school kids).
Aug 12, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The price of abundance is restraint concludes Crister in Fatland.

Crister traces the roots of America's obesity epidemic to the Nixon administration. Agricultural secretary Earl Butz opened up free markets to help farmers and steady rfood pr
Jan 26, 2018 rated it liked it
The book was alright but got a bit boring at times. What the author says is that, ultimately, being fat is very bad for you no matter your age. The book is loaded with facts to support that claim, but since the book was published in the late 90’s, some of the facts are out dated.
Brian Morgan
Nov 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Book has a lot of historical information of how political / economic changes under Earl Butz affected our diet, mostly to the negative. Author does a good job of highlighting the many inputs to the obesity problem we now face in the US.
Feb 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
It's a very good read and I think that everyone in America should have to read this book. It was a little hard to start reading in the beginning but it is very enlightening.
Nov 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
As a 10th grade philomath, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of information found in Fat Land. The amount of information in this book is on-par with the amount found in textbooks, which unfortunately made it hard to read for long periods of time. Therefore, this book appealed to me in a logical way, not in an emotional way. As its name and cover states, Fat Land is all about how Americans (in the U.S.) became the fattest people in the world. Greg Critser provides a thorough history about ...more
Kym Chapple
Jan 01, 2012 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
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
Bad Girl Bex
Jan 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
I wish we could give books a score out of ten, rather than out of five, on here. This book is a decent 7/10. I couldn't give it a 3/5 as that's too low, so I gave it a 4/5, despite it not being as good as other books I have awarded the same score to. The 'out-of-five' scale annoys me with its vagueness.

But anyway. This was a very interesting book. I missed it when it was initially released - despite it seeming to have been received well and given much hype - so it does feel a tad out of date, bu
Spook Harrison
Jul 27, 2013 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
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