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Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  3,799 ratings  ·  427 reviews
Fat isn't the problem. Dieting is the problem. A society that rejects anyone whose body shape or size doesn’t match an impossible ideal is the problem. A medical establishment that equates "thin" with "healthy" is the problem. Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight by Linda Bacon, PhD, presents a well-researched, healthy-living manual that debunks the ...more
Paperback, 326 pages
Published October 11th 2008 by BenBella Books
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Average rating 4.27  · 
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 ·  3,799 ratings  ·  427 reviews

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Apr 05, 2010 rated it liked it

First I want to say that this book is a must-read for anyone who is overweight and has ever wished they were thinner. Even if I felt the book was flawed in a few ways, I think it's still incredibly valuable.There's a whole movement started by the book and it's a really empowering, wonderful thing.

Essentially, the point of this book is that the chips are stacked against higher-weight Americans, that our senses of hunger and satiety has been manipulated for the profit of food and pharmaceutical co
M.M. Strawberry Library & Reviews
This book was not written by a medical doctor. (I also find the name Bacon to be deliciously ironic)

It's easy to be impressed by someone who says 'I have a PhD' but keep in mind that a PhD is NOT the same as a MD. Not only that, but Bacon's degree is in physiology, not medicine, and she (as of 2020) is an associate nutritionist at the same college she got her degree from (University of California)

Calling oneself is a nutritionist is an automatic strike against that person. ANYONE can call themse
Feb 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Holy moley... I wish I'd read this book when I was fifteen! My entire life would have been changed with this knowledge, and possibly that of several members of my family.

If you have any issues regarding your weight or self-image, or if anyone you love has those issues, do not walk but RUN to get your hands on this book.

The research presented will knock your socks off... and change your understanding of how your body works to protect and support you. The down side is that you will forever be susp
Feb 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Every human in North America
If you have ever gone on a diet (even a "healthy eating" plan), if you have ever looked at your body and thought you were fat, if you ever have wished you were thin, if you have ever counted a calorie, you must read this book. If you're a naturally thin person who has never had to worry about food or weight, read this book!

Linda Bacon outlines all the lies we've been fed about obesity and weight loss, and she does it with impeccable science. Every time she makes a statement of fact in the book,
Mar 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent book that explains why diets don't work and THANK GOODNESS finally shifts the blame from the dieter, to the diet. THE DIET DOESN'T WORK! Stop blaming yourself for not being able to control everything. Some things are just out of your control. Let it go. Food is to be eaten for nutrients, to nourish our bodies and provide us with the energy we need to function. SO EAT FOOD. Eat a variety, and eat SLOWLY to enjoy the food. Unprocessed foods are better for you than processed fo ...more
Sep 30, 2019 rated it liked it
I have mixed feelings after reading Health at Every Size. I have struggled for over 3 decades with eating disorders and even when my weight has been well-within "normal" ranges (i.e., a "healthy BMI") I have still felt pressure to diet, to get thinner, to generally not feel happy with who I am or how I look. Over the years I've read a variety of books on health, fitness, diet, weight and disease - including different diets such as Paleo, keto, vegetarian, vegan, Whole-30, Mediterranean, etc. and ...more
Jun 29, 2009 added it
Shelves: adult, nonfiction
I have been learning about Health at Every Size and the Fat Acceptance movement and am thus trying to read it's canon of literature. The basic idea is that dieting and self-loathing are equally bad for you and one can take better care of oneself by eating and exercising in ways that feel good. This book and others like it are making me more of a feminist and more compassionate to the bodies of others and to my own body. ...more
Tofer Carlson
Jan 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
There aren’t a lot of books I would recommend to absolutely everyone.

If you have ever struggled with dieting, felt shame about your body weight, or feel like you need to lose weight, you should read this book.

If you have ever looked at someone fat and found yourself judging their weight, tried to give friends or patients advice like diet and exercise, you should read this book too.

If you have ever believed that weight is, in itself, a health hazard, and have any power to affect change in anyo
Jun 05, 2017 rated it did not like it
Badly written and ends with the (not)helpful advice to stop dieting and just be happy, even if you're overweight. Ridiculous. ...more
Jan 11, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: health-books
It's flawed in parts but I got a lot out of this book overall. The core messages of this book are solid and timely; Listen to your body and eat real food that makes you feel good. Starving yourself to be thinner ends in weight gain for most of us and a raising of your set-point weight, so don’t do it. Move in ways that make you feel good without worrying about burning calories. Don’t pay attention to super-skinny ideals or weight-loss-diet-hype and just do what works for you and makes you feel h ...more
Andrea James
I struggled with this book and not because it was badly written (the author has a readable, non-academic style of writing). I suppose because its main premise is so far from what I've believed all my life, I found it rather difficult to accept. While I agree with the author's view that it is counterproductive to berate oneself and go into cycles of self-hate and binging on food, I perhaps still hold on to the belief that one simply needs to positively re-frame one's journey to fitness (at a norm ...more
Jan 29, 2013 rated it it was ok
I had high hopes for this book when I read the introduction but found it very disappointing. I found the research behind her movement shallow and biased. As someone that's never actually been overweight, only feared becoming overweight, I found nothing inspirational or helpful in it, particularly when she accuses thin people of landing jobs that more "qualified," but overweight, people should have gotten. The closing remarks were bizarre and her "research" was not presented with enough actual da ...more
Katie Kempski
Feb 13, 2019 rated it liked it
This is probably the most frustrating book I've ever read.

Let me preface by saying that I've struggled with my weight my whole life. I've been obese since I was young, and I've tried basically every diet/diet program/exercise program that exists. I always thought I was just "meant to be fat." I tried to accept myself. Then I learned about calories. I started counting calories and working out, and I lost weight. A lot of it. 140 pounds, to be exact.

Then I gained it all back. I told myself, again,
Nov 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, fat
This is definitely a book I will credit to spurring me further in my body acceptance journey. It'll be very hard, due to the many misconceptions about weight which this book debunks, but I think this was a book I needed to read at this point in my life. The way it was written, in a compassionate and understanding tone, was also excellent in allowing me to take its message without hating myself for being swayed by damaging weight loss campaigns I've been exposed to throughout my life. I know now ...more
Dec 16, 2015 rated it it was ok
Not sure I learned anything I didn't already know from this book.

I actually felt like it was a bit of a downer -- I felt like the author was saying "there's nothing you can do about your weight, your body is predisposed to be a certain size ..." I'm not sure I agree with this entirely.

Nov 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Eye-opening and very empowering. To think I gave up exercise because I couldn't see the pounds coming off...Now to move joyously and start viewing myself as the wonderful, wide woman I am! ...more
Misty Galbraith
Apr 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sex-educator
This book had a lot of good things to say about the pitfalls of dieting and how important it is for us to embrace acceptance of ourselves, no matter our shape or size. However, I found it hard to slog through and did not enjoy large doses of the author’s philosophy not backed up with science. But overall, it’s valuable and I have a lot of quotes and thoughts about what I read. “Once you know how to listen to your body’s signals, you’ll get comfortable eating amounts that satisfy you without over ...more
Dec 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, read2009
I read this after reading "Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat." It made me like that other book less, because this one covered all found in the other, but this one came first, and this one helped explain why there were parts of "Eat What You Love" that I found a little problematic.

This author, with her little study that proved that dropping the issue of weight, and concentrating on self-esteem, self-acceptance, and learning to trust the signals of the body and the mind actually works better th
Goran Petrovic
Apr 19, 2021 rated it did not like it
I've only managed to read half of this book before deciding to stop wasting my time, so I can only speak of the first half of the book.

It has been a long time since I've read such an unscientific text. The author conflates correlation and causation, ignores confounding factors that are well established in the field for some of the presented research, and promotes their views as scientific truth without any proof; even worse, with abundant proof to the contrary.

The problem is that many of the ide
Sunshine Jeremiah
Excellent information on health as it relates to size. We are told that people who are fat are likely to die sooner and have more health problems. The problem is that all evidence is based on correlation and not causation. This book tells the truth about the science and what EVERYONE needs to know to have a healthy life- whether fat or skinny or something else entirely.

It is a good read and very affirming.
Mar 03, 2013 rated it it was ok
The information was interesting -- the writing was, I thought, exceptionally bad.

Also, I'm just not sure I buy what she's selling with this book. I did not find it helpful -- I found it depressing. But if others did find it helpful, great, more power to 'em.
Sara Holland Levin
Apr 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This was excellent. Extremely informative to the emphasis we put on weight loss as cure alone, rather than health as the goal. And very eye opening to the fact that fat shaming and diet insistence only makes people sicker and fatter. It’s not an easy notion to accept, given that we’ve been force fed the opposite for over a century. But I would encourage anyone who wants to focus on health - not weight - to read this book. It offers excellent advice on incorporating gentle nutrition, increased ex ...more
Nov 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I found this book was a great foundation for body acceptance. The scientific writing and evidence shown in the book helped to crush weight myths and instill confidence in intuitive eating. I would say it's a good start for body acceptance but not a complete guide. ...more
Liv Bochenek
Dec 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Love this book - everyone should read this book. I really enjoyed it and learned and maybe more importantly ~unlearned~ so much about how deeply diet culture is ingrained in our culture, our ways of thinking and values about ourselves and others. I loved that it explored a lot of the socioeconomic events involved in making this industry so powerful and adaptable, studies that debunk the false notion that weight loss=health as well as personal strategies for becoming an intuitive eater and crushi ...more
Feb 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The main value of this book is its discussions of the food industry in the US and its comprehensive review of studies on metabolism, weight, etc. The critique of US food industry (high fructose corn syrup, subsidies for unhealthy crap, and so on) can be found in many places nowadays, and the questioning of said practices' environmental impact will also be fairly obvious to most readers.

The meat of the book is covering studies that conclude that it's very difficult to lose any significant amount
Apr 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
I'm still pondering this book.

This book contains a lot of data, which I appreciated. It is good to see a review of the solid, scientific evidence that weight is not the cause of all the ailments usually blamed on it. And I think it's incredibly helpful to understand that failing to lose weight is not a personal failure of will, but basically the way our bodies are wired to work -- I definitely would like to force some medical practitioners I've dealt with to read this, starting with the chiropr
Aug 31, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Jenn by: members
I love this book. It discusses in accessible writing why 95% of people who diet gain all the weight back, explaining that we're biologically wired to gain weight when possible but not to lose it. The author also cites numerous studies and research that suggest weight isn't the problem it's been made out to be, and that not only can someone be fat and healthy, people who are "overweight" (by the BMI's standards) tend to live longer than people who weigh less. The author, an obesity researcher, sp ...more
This very readable book is a good choice for those who are trying to figure out what to eat in today's complex food environment.

The first half summarizes, in readable language, the research that is reviewed in more detail in books like Gina Kolata's Rethinking Thin, Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food and Joan Nestle's What to Eat.

The second half of the book presents a program for paying attention to whether you're hungry and whether the food is of good quality before you decide to eat it, ins
Mar 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
This book was so helpful and eye-opening for me. It gave me the courage and knowledge to advocate for myself to health professionals, getting them to encourage me in goals of eating better and exercising rather than this obsessive focus on weight loss. I think this is a much healthier way to live, both mentally and physically. The most important lesson in this book is that significant weight loss is not sustainable for the vast majority of people, and that the yo-yoing of weight with constant di ...more
Ah, a book I should have read as a teenager (not that it existed then)! I LOVE that we're really starting to see bodies of all sizes/shapes/colors in the media, but we still have a long, long way to go.

This book focuses not on weight loss, but on listening to our bodies. If you're looking for a weight loss book, this isn't it, but read it anyway!

The gist? Be active when it's something we enjoy, not out of guilt or obligation in an attempt to control or lose weight. Eat what we enjoy without guil
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“Once you consider the extent of the magical thinking that tends to be tied in to the fantasy of thinness, you can understand how threatening it is to consider the idea that you may never get the thin body you crave. It means that you never get to become the person you want to be. Wow! No wonder it’s so painful to let go of the drive to lose weight! Accepting your body is not just about physicality, it’s about accepting who you are, not continuing to wait until you become the person you imagine being.” 11 likes
“The only way to solve the weight problem is to stop making weight a problem—to stop judging ourselves and others by our size. Weight is not an effective measure of attractiveness, moral character, or health. The real enemy is weight stigma, for it is the stigmatization and fear of fat that causes the damage and deflects attention from true threats to our health and well-being.” 9 likes
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