“Why We Get Fat” and Challenging the Assumptions About Obesity – Book Review

So much of my life has been spent preoccupied with my weight. I have spent so many days going without food or very little, feeling guilty when I overindulged, and having the most unhealthy relationship with what went into my mouth. We are taught that if we are fat it is because we are lazy or because we have no sense of self control.

From youth many of us feel very little control over our food choices. We are forced to eat things we don’t like. We are made to eat when it’s convenient for our parents, not when we’re actually hungry. As children our parents tell us to finish whatever is on our plates, despite the fact that we might be full.

On top of that, we live in a country that has a “cake culture” where anything that’s special is celebrated with food. We are taught that being health-conscious and concerned about our food is irrational and we’re called “health nuts. “We’re all going to die anyway” is what people say.

These cultural factors are a recipe for disaster. When that recipe is compounded by misinformation and aggressive marketing by food producers, it’s no wonder the world is getting fatter and fatter.

Photo credit: New York Times

As a person who has spent her career in agribusiness it really hurts me to know that the industry that I love so much is a big part of the problem of the global obesity epidemic.

In fact, obesity has become such common place that we no longer even want to acknowledge it. It has become an ugly word that evokes stigma because we have been conditioned to think that obesity is a problem of the person, of gluttony and sloth. Who wants to be told that they are the problem when it’s a problem that clearly everyone shares. Well obesity must be normal, inevitable, many want to even convince us that it’s possible to be obese and be healthy. Even to say that a person is obese is considered offensive!

This societal shift is happening despite the very clear evidence that obesity is a dangerous chronic health condition that needs to be eradicated for a healthy human population. Why? People feel helpless, overwhelmed, and exhausted. No one wants to continue dieting year after year and never see any lasting results. So what’s the solution?

“Why We Get Fat An eye-opening, paradigm-shattering examination of what makes us fat. In the New York Times best seller Good Calories, Bad Calories, acclaimed science writer Gary Taubes argues that certain kinds of carbohydrates—not fats and not simply excess calories—have led to our current obesity epidemic.

Here comes, “Why We Get Fat” This book masterfully lays out how obesity is not a problem of the person. It is a problem with the food itself. No matter how much we starve ourselves. No matter how many hours a day we dedicate to crushing those calories. The simple (albeit controversial) truth is that no matter what we do, the only way to change our bodies and improve our overall health, is to change WHAT we eat.

The impact of our carb heavy diet, particularly the relationship between carbs and insulin, and its subsequent impacts on fat retention is never a part of our conversation when discussing obesity. We make people feel like if they could just do better they would be better when in reality they are doing exactly what they have been taught is better. Many of us have grown up with the food pyramid that has carbs as its base. It is this very attempt to eat a healthy well-balanced diet that is truly killing us.

“Why We Get Fat” really does a great job of laying out how our changing dietary practices to include more sugar in the form of carbohydrates is what is at the core of our obesity. More than ever people, even in the most remote parts of the world, are consuming carbs at an alarming rate. The average American consumes over 300 carbs per day, an outrageous amount!

The author lays out the research in an easily digestible manner to demonstrate how the agricultural industry and food companies have impacted public policy and our current dietary practices leading to an ever increasing obesity problem.

In “Why We Get Fat,” we learn that the assumption that we get fat because we eat too much is wrong. We eat too much because we are fat. Our bodies are designed to store fat, to protect its fat reserves, and to seek out fattening food sources. This is the core reason why diets fail! This is why people who are obese have such strong overwhelming cravings, they don’t see the extreme results from physical activity, and any weight loss is usually regained within a year.

I really enjoyed this book. It was so insightful and I learned so much about how foods impact our bodies, about what to eat and what not too. “Why We Get Fat” gave me so much food for thought, and challenged much of what I had previously been told about how to not be fat. I think this book is a must read for anyone who is passionate about the issue of obesity, who has a personal stake in being healthier, and anyone who is concerned about public health at large.

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