Americans spend more money on the war against fat than the war against terror. As Tara writes, “we are indeed a nation at war with a body part.”
After the birth of her second child, the author, who has a doctorate in biochemistry and has served as a consultant for major biotech companies, struggled to hold her weight in check with a combination of diet and exercise in order to pass what she describes as the “skinny jeans” test. From her adolescence, dieting and exercise had become an obsession but not a solution, and Tara was on a roller coaster, losing extra pounds on a starvation diet and then gaining them back just by eating dinner. Her professional training fueled her determination to find out why she gained weight while her friends, who ate more and exercised less, remained thin. Examining a variety of scientific studies, she made a surprising discovery. Experiments revealed what she calls “the obesity paradox,” which showed how fat plays an important part in maintaining our overall health. While obesity is a contributing factor to heart disease, the survival rate after heart failure is better for people with “a higher body mass index and higher fat.” Tara also discovered new reports suggesting the possibility that obesity is the result of a viral infection. Ongoing research has identified people with an antibody to the virus who gained significantly greater body mass over a 10-year period. Researchers have also found that fat stores stem cells, which play a vital role in replacing bone, muscle, and cartilage in the body. For Tara, this provides a convincing explanation of why there is not a one-size-fits-all solution to the problem of maintaining a healthy weight. The author ably combines an accessible explanation of how the body’s metabolism works with a clear survey of the latest research on obesity.
A book that should have wide appeal, not only to those fighting the battle of the bulge.