Mary's Reviews > Rethinking Thin: The New Science of Weight Loss--and the Myths and Realities of Dieting

Rethinking Thin by Gina Kolata
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Oct 07, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: nonfiction
Recommended for: Everybody who worries about their weight or makes jokes about fat people
Read in October, 2009

Man, I feel like such a chump. I've been swallowing the line on dieting for years without question, and this book really blows it up. The author reviews the past several decades of research on obesity and dieting and lets us in on the results -- diets don't work and your weight in genetically predetermined. You heard me. All that fat shaming and blathering about lack of personal responsibility that is done by public health folks, diet gurus, and Dr. Phil? Not relevant. The reason the vast majority of people can't keep weight off after dieting is that your body is working against you to get you back to whatever weight is your "set point." We have decent control over maybe 10-20 pounds. And you know what else? It's unlikely that being overweight has a significant effect on your health or longevity.

I've just blown your mind, haven't I?

The author, who's a science writer for the New York Times, does a good job of reviewing the research and explaining the different studies. The writing is a little technical at times, where she explains how scientists uncovered various hormones, peptides, and DNA. She also talks about the resistance the media and other researchers have had to certain studies that refuted the conventional wisdom about obesity. She explains this by pointing to the vast amount of money that dieting advocates, obesity researchers, and government entities stand to lose if the "obesity epidemic" is disproved.

Here's the deal: While improving your food choices and getting regular exercise can have a positive impact on your health, they probably won't make you thin. So if we can stop beating ourselves up for being fat, ugly, and unlovable, if we can make peace with our size and use all that time and money we spent on dieting for something else, if we stop letting people tell us we should be ashamed of ourselves...that'd be something, huh?
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