In attempting to rescue her older brother from his morbid obesity, the author recognizes the legacy of their father’s alcoholism.
As the book opens, Carter weighs nearly 400 pounds. Once an avid skier and outdoorsman, he can no longer dress himself, bathe or even walk the few steps from his front door to the car. He uses a rolling office chair to get around the kitchen and a motorized scooter when he leaves the house. His 3,000-calorie â€œdiet” and gorging at family meals is ignored by both his wife Lyndsey, who feels helpless to stop him, and by Watson and their family, already beleaguered by their father’s long bout with alcoholism. Determined to help, Watson researches a series of care options ranging from Overeaters Anonymous to both inpatient and outpatient services. What she discovers as she mines the genesis of her brother’s obesity is that food, for Carter, is an addiction–like any substance abuse, and often ignored as such by the medical community. Characteristic of many addictions, Watson can trace Carter’s problem, at least in part, to her family’s dysfunction. The starkly observed ripple effect of Carter’s illness on the family, and the reverberations of her father’s alcoholism and mother’s early enabling, bears witness to the alarming trajectory of addiction. Watson writes movingly of the effect of Carter’s obesity on the family; the frequent, exhausting trips to the hospital; Carter’s emotionally abusive outbursts; the helplessness of not being able to change him; his deceptions and belligerence; and the apathy and fear of conflict that kept the family from confronting him for so long. As she wrangles her two young sons to school and back, watching them wrestle with self-esteem issues, she wonders if they will inherit the family’s addictive tendencies. Her compelling personal journey may be a useful tool to others with similar experiences. Only when the author veers into lofty philosophical prose or attempts trite palliative insights does the book become broad and unsophisticated.
An often-poignant examination of overeating and the effects of addiction on family.