Easy reading packed with information that, without inflicting guilt on couch potatoes, suggests that maybe they’ve been...

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ULTIMATE FITNESS

THE QUEST FOR TRUTH ABOUT EXERCISE AND HEALTH

New York Times science reporter Kolata (Flu, 1999, etc.) takes a revealing look at the myths and misunderstandings about what exercise can do for you.

A clear-eyed skeptic who is also an unabashed exercise enthusiast, the author knows how to dig for truth behind the puffery of a press release. Researching one especially misleading handout led her to ask questions about the science behind the exercise industry’s fitness and health claims. For background, Kolata provides a brief survey of attitudes toward exercise from the ancient Greeks through the aerobics movement of the 1970s to the computer-monitored health clubs of today. She questions many generally accepted training claims—that low-intensity exercise burns the most fat, that weight training prevents osteoporosis, that stretching should precede a workout—and tries to determine how and why these and other ideas about fitness and health came to be accepted as fact. When her daughter decides to become certified by the American Council of Exercise as a personal trainer, Kolata gets an inside view of the exercise industry and concludes that for the most part certification is a business involving little training but lots of fee payments. She also scrutinizes the promotion of food and food supplements promising weight loss and muscle definition. As the author tracks down answers, she not only gives the reader a look into the worlds of exercise physiologists and trainers but also a glimpse of how an experienced journalist researches a story. Her personality shines through to brighten the reporting, as she shares the story of her own love affair with physical exercise, using adjectives like “exhilarated,” “strong,” and “focused” to describe her state of mind and body after a rigorous workout. For Kolata, it seems, the greatest benefit of exercise is not weight loss, improved health, physical fitness, or longer life, but sheer pleasure.

Easy reading packed with information that, without inflicting guilt on couch potatoes, suggests that maybe they’ve been missing out on a lot of fun.

Pub Date: May 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-374-20477-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2003

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Authoritative and, most helpfully, accessible.

HEALING OUR VILLAGE

A SELF-CARE GUIDE TO DIABETES CONTROL

Self-help guide for diabetes sufferers, mostly in question-and-answer format, with an emphasis on helping racial and ethnic minority diabetics.

Coleman is a pharmacist with a doctorate in her specialty, Gavin a Ph.D. and M.D. Aside from acknowledgments and a foreword signed by Gavin alone, their voices and expertise are indistinguishable, offering lucid, simple solutions for diabetes patients. Gavin relates watching his great-grandmother endure debilitating pain as a result of diabetes while he visited her as a youngster. He remembers hearing adults mention that sugar killed her, and he wondered how something that tasted sweet could cause so much harm. As an adult, he realized that his great-grandmother's affliction could be controlled through treatment. The authors focus on Type 2 diabetes, the most common form in minority populations. An estimated 18.2 million Americans are diabetic, with perhaps 5 million unaware of their situation. About 11 percent of U.S. diabetics are African-American, and about 8 percent are Latino. The question-and-answer format begins with an overview section about diabetes, with an emphasis on risk factors. Section Two covers management of the disease, including nutrition, exercise, blood-testing, oral medications and insulin use. In addition, the authors continually recommend smoking cessation, as well as instructing patients on the readiness of self-treatment. Section Three explains the complications—high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease—that could arise if the condition remains untreated or treated ineffectively. The questions in all of the sections are worded simply, and the answers are usually free of medical jargon. Though the sudden shifts in tone and voice are occasionally jarring, the writing remains clear enough to distill the facts. The real downside here, though: patronizing, laughable illustrations that degrade the overall product.

Authoritative and, most helpfully, accessible.

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2004

ISBN: 0-9746948-0-0

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2010

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There's a clear and intelligent gadfly at work here, offering much food for thought through his outrage.

CANCER-GATE

HOW TO WIN THE LOSING CANCER WAR

An astute—and sadly revealing—collection of articles from the past 15 years covering a wide number of topics related to the state of cancer research in the United States.

While it's true that Epstein—a physician and professor of occupational and environmental medicine at the University of Illinois College of Medicine—is clearly distressed by the current situation regarding our nation's approach to seeking cures and causes of cancer, this is far from a screed or conspiracy theory. He and a small number of contributors explain clearly why they feel the cancer fight has been stymied from the beginning. Epstein suggests the elimination of two impediments immediately: blaming the victim and putting the emphasis on diagnosis and treatment instead of prevention. He further suggests that there ought to be a distance between research institutions and those who fund the research. Since that likely means state intervention, he would like to see that ideologically biased individuals are not put in positions of power, dispersing funds (as happened under the Reagan administration, with its closed-door sessions with industry executives); too often the economic and political strings are held by those with a conflict of interest, such as the makers of products with suspicions of carcinogenic properties, or those with a vested interest in selling drugs to cancer patients. He also suggests that groups like the American Cancer Society stop spending three-quarters of their massive annual outlay on administrative costs, and start working more closely with environmental and occupational groups. Finally, he addresses the potential threats from pre-menopausal mammography, and the food industry's use of growth hormones.

There's a clear and intelligent gadfly at work here, offering much food for thought through his outrage.

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2005

ISBN: 0-89503-310-0

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2010

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