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Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World Hardcover – Jan 14 2003


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books (Jan. 14 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618164723
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618164721
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.4 x 21 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 431 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #797,292 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

You reap what you sow. According to Critser, a leading journalist on health and obesity, America about 30 years ago went crazy sowing corn. Determined to satisfy an American public that "wanted what it wanted when it wanted it," agriculture secretary Earl Butz determined to lower American food prices by ending restrictions on trade and growing. The superabundance of cheap corn that resulted inspired Japanese scientists to invent a cheap sweetener called "high fructose corn syrup." This sweetener made food look and taste so great that it soon found its way into everything from bread to soda pop. Researchers ignored the way the stuff seemed to trigger fat storage. In his illuminating first book (which began life as a cover story for Harper's Magazine), Critser details what happened as this river of corn syrup (and cheap, lardlike palm oil) met with a fast-food marketing strategy that prized sales-via supersized "value" meals-over quality or conscience. The surgeon general has declared obesity an epidemic. About 61% of Americans are now overweight-20% of us are obese. Type 2 (i.e., fat-related) diabetes is exploding, even among children. Critser vividly describes the physical suffering that comes from being fat. He shows how the poor become the fattest, victimized above all by the lack of awareness. Critser's book is a good first step in rectifying that. In vivid prose conveying the urgency of the situation, with just the right amount of detail for general readers, Critser tells a story that they won't be able to shake when they pass the soda pop aisle in the supermarket. This book should attract a wide readership.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Childhood obesity, diabetes, and related illnesses are becoming major health problems in America. Nutrition journalist Critser presents a critical analysis of the many social and economic factors that make Americans, contrary to the book's subtitle, the second-fattest people in the world (the South Sea Islanders are fatter). He blames parents' reluctance to monitor their children's eating habits; the marketing tactics of fast-food companies, which influence us to overeat; the preponderance of fad diets; the phasing out of physical education programs in schools; and the sale of fast foods at schools to save money on dining facilities. Lower-income families have higher rates of obesity regardless of race, ethnicity, and gender, which the author attributes to lack of information about diet and exercise and the wide diversity of cultural beliefs about weight, body size, and self-esteem. Critser urges Americans to tackle obesity head on, concluding with descriptions of initiatives that worked when communities launched a cooperative effort to change their eating habits and avoid the path to lifelong obesity. An important work that belongs in all nutrition and public health collections. [See also Robert Pool's excellent Fat: Fighting the Obesity Epidemic and Eric Schlosser's scathing Fast Food Nation.-Ed.]-Irwin Weintraub, Brooklyn Coll. Lib., New Yor.
--Irwin Weintraub, Brooklyn Coll. Lib., New York
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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First Sentence
EARL BUTZ, nominated by Richard Nixon in 1971 to be the eighteenth secretary of agriculture, conjured the airs of a courtly midwestern grandfather, the kind who liked to show up at Sunday dinner, give the blessing, lecture the grandchildren about patriotism, free trade, the goodness of farm life, and the evils that threatened such a life - and then go out to the backyard and tell off-color jokes to the assembled adults. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Cheryl M. Hammond on July 9 2004
Format: Paperback
A worthwhile topic, disappointingly rendered, especially if you've read "Fast Food Nation".
Critser goes into useful levels of detail on tantalizingly few topics. Too many of his other points are supported only anecdotally, or worse, because-he-said-so.
He does make at least a few points excellently: the blistering critique of our feel-good fat-positive self-esteem etiquette nonsense, that prevents us from warning our friends and ourselves when we are literally gorging ourselves to death, was right on the mark and needed saying. I attended a women's college during a high-level eating disorder scare, and found it surprising and eye-opening to learn that the rates of anorexia and bulimia are far lower than our self-help culture has suggested. Certainly it is useful for everyone to place anorexia and bulimia in proper perspective alongside the skyrocketing rates of obesity, and ask ourselves what we've gained for conceding one in the name of fighting the others. (He does not detail, but in later years it has also become part of the thinking on eating disorders that they are primarily mental illnesses related to control and trauma, not food. We should stop treating them as being about food, and start treating obesity, which is about food!) And, the chapter on the "branding" of food and drink in our schools should be a wake-up call for parents and school boards nationwide.
Unfortunately, too many other topics represent missed opportunities or simply misfires. Sure, his high fructose corn syrup theory is supported by some initial dietary research, but so were all the other fad diets he himself decries. The opening chapter on America's food subsidies and ag policies is frustratingly thin and primarily devoted to an amusing character study of Mr.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ursula on Nov. 2 2003
Format: Hardcover
There are interesting nuggets of information in this book, but I found myself annoyed while reading most of this book due to the author's biased and unprofessional approach to (supposedly) journalistic writing.
The first part of the book deals with HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) and palm oil --- food processes/byproducts developed in the 70s that led to Americans receiving more calories in their foods that more easily turned to fat inside the body than other substances theretofore consumed by us. This I found interesting. However, during this discussion the author demonized one Earl Butz, Secretary of Agriculture under Nixon. I was a mere child during Nixon's years, so I know nothing of Earl Butz and therefore can't say one way or the other if he was the demon incarnate that the author makes him out to be or not. Throughout the book, the author blames Butz for all of the evil fat-making foods on the market today. This seems implausible to me that one single man could be responsible for so much. I think it's more likely that these new processes of HFCS and palm oil was an *industry* trend that would have taken hold regardless of who happened to be Secretary of Agriculture.
Another annoyance is the author's strained efforts to make it seem like there's a conspiracy going on to fatten up the poor and non-white minorities in this country. One such ludicrous example he gave was of the opening of a Krispy Kreme franchise in a Latino area of Southern California. The author tries very hard, and unconvincingly, to use the fact that cars were lined up around the block for KK's opening as proof that the poor are targeted for fatty foods. Is the author completely unaware that *every* KK opening is accompanied by lines of cars around the block, even in upper-class white-bread neighborhoods?!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 18 2003
Format: Hardcover
I bought this hoping it would tell me something I didn't know, and boy was I wrong. Sure it's got some fun parts, but why bother to buy it? It's like a magazine article more than a book, with one idea, which is that if Americans were somehow better people we'd be thinner, like the French, who the author holds up as some kind of great example. Yeah, right, but this ain't France. Yes, Americans are fat because the portions are big and fast food is widely available, but no one's forcing this stuff on us, so why are we eating it? That's the big question, and this book doesn't even begin to address it. Yes, yes, we know that we should encourage our kids to eat healthier, but that's not news. Why do some kids (and some adults) seem to want to eat more than others? Well, according to the author, it's because some of us have more will power than others. We need a book to tell us that? There's nothing in this book that hasn't been covered in more depth by other books, and even by the women's magazines. I also found the author's personal story totally bogus: his message is basically that he lost weight because someone called him a "fatso" and that this embarrassed him to go on a diet. Then he admits that he actually took diet drugs. Then he confesses that he really didn't lose all that much weight and is still pretty fat. Which is it? And where does that leave us? Finally, like a lot of other people have pointed out, this book is so full of mistakes of all kinds that you can't trust it. Save your money.
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