A bright and lively study on weight control, featuring research into the genetic basis of obesity, past and future drug treatments, self-help diet gurus, and the efforts of the size-acceptance movement to change a fat-unfriendly world. Science writer Vogel (Naked Earth: The New Geophysics, 1995) tackles the weight issue from a variety of angles, interviewing molecular biologists and obesity researchers, as well as activists from the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA) and promoters of religious-based diet programs. What she creates is a picture of a culture obsessed with the subject of weight control. She relates key developments in the search for an understanding of the role of genes in weight control, making clear that genes provide only the propensity for obesity and that our own habits are what make the difference. Vogel also explores two somewhat contradictory concepts currently in favor: one that obesity is a chronic disease requiring not a quick-weight-loss solution but long-term treatment, and the other that the focus of treatment should not be on reducing fatness but on promoting metabolic fitness. While some might be tempted to find humor in NAAFA activists' attempts to make being fat acceptable or in Gwen Shamblin's Christian-based diet program, Weigh Down, which asks participants to convert their love of food into love for God, Vogel treats these subjects with the same seriousness and respect she affords to scientific researchers. Everyone, it seems, is groping with a complex puzzle that has not yielded itself up to solution. In sum, Vogel reports, there is much still to be learned about how different bodies control weight, and the discoveries that scientists in their labs may come up with will still have to be acted upon by human beings living in a weight-obsessed world. Not another how-to, but a clear and informative guide to the larger issues involved in weight control.
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