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Journeys into the past to investigate America's obsession with weight and interviews today's weight-loss profiteers, coming to the conclusion that, far from helping people lose weight, the diet gurus contribute to Americans' weight obsession and obesity.
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An engagingly written, well-guided tour of what must be the tenth circle of Hell: the barrage of diets, diet gurus, slimming drugs, and huckster cures aimed at excess pounds. Laura Fraser, a contributing editor to Health magazine and onetime bulimic, brings insight, skepticism, humor, and a sometimes jaundiced eye to her investigation of the diet industry and anti-diet backlash. She questions some key studies on the dangers of obesity and marshals evidence that the cure--be it papaya or protein jags, eschewing fat or getting stomach staples--is not always worth the pain.From Kirkus Reviews:
A highly personal and spirited expos‚ of the diet culture by a journalist who has had ample experience with the pressures to be slender. A recovered bulimic, Fraser (who has written for Health, Glamour, and other magazines) has given up the pursuit of thinness and here urges other women to do likewise. In writing this book, she says, ``I became as obsessed with the diet industry as I was, at one time, with dieting.'' It shows. Following a brief look at changing ideals of beauty, she zeroes in on the current cult of thinness and those who promote it. In her enthusiasm, she lumps together Susan Powter, Richard Simmons, and Dean Ornish as ``diet gurus,'' though their credentials and their methods have little in common. However, her look at diet scams such as chromium supplements, herbal remedies, and over-the-counter diet pills is more carefully done and thus more persuasive, as are her reports of visits to a Jenny Craig weight-loss center and to a couple of rather questionable San Franciscoarea diet doctors. Fraser evidently weighs enough to appear to be a legitimate client/patient, and her descriptions of these encounters are eye-openers. Obesity researchers also come under her scrutiny. She asserts that their thinking is distorted by the fact that their funding comes primarily from the diet industry and that their attitudes are shaped by the larger culture's preference for thinness and even--a shaky claim, this--by their own personal weight problems. Her praise is saved for antidiet researchers who take the position that exercise and good nutrition are what counts for health and that weight just doesn't matter. A welcome message for many women, marred somewhat by an excess of zeal. (First serial rights to Glamour; second serial rights to Good Housekeeping; author tour) -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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