Fat No More: A Teenager's Victory over Obesity

Fat No More: A Teenager's Victory over Obesity

by Alberto Hidalgo-Robert
     
 

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"My life was a circus and a comedy show by the age of three months: I was already the size of a one-year-old! I was hairy with big cheeks, big legs, feet akin to tamales and hands like an over-stuffed pita bread," writes twenty-year-old Alberto Hidalgo-Robert in this fascinating memoir about his lifelong struggle with obesity. The first grandchild born into his

Overview

"My life was a circus and a comedy show by the age of three months: I was already the size of a one-year-old! I was hairy with big cheeks, big legs, feet akin to tamales and hands like an over-stuffed pita bread," writes twenty-year-old Alberto Hidalgo-Robert in this fascinating memoir about his lifelong struggle with obesity. The first grandchild born into his family in El Salvador, Alberto is showered with attention and gifts. Soon, though, he is known as "El Gordito," or the little fat boy. By the age of seven, he weighed a whopping 120 pounds and his pediatrician had started him on a diet. By the time he was nine he had tried ten different diets. His life became a vicious cycle of eating to excess, sneaking food and lying to himself and his parents; he was the butt of practical jokes and teased by peers and strangers, ultimately turning into a recluse, addicted to food and television. From the low point of his descent into obesity hell, Hidalgo-Robert chronicles how he was able to take hold of his life, reinvent himself and become a model for other teenagers who are battling weight issues. A spirited tale of a young man who lost his way, this book offers a roadmap for living a healthy life and regaining self-respect and social acceptance. Each chapter contains "battling" tools, examples of both good and bad behavior and typical self-deceptions in the war to conquer oneself and live a healthier life. He even includes easy-to-make recipes for delicious foods that will appeal to any teenager. An absorbing account of one young person's attempts to deal with obesity, this cautionary tale is for anyone interested in this country's leading health issue.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Hidalgo-Robert, a 20-year-old college student and antiobesity activist, writes an earnest but rambling self-help memoir about his weight struggles. The author grew up in El Salvador, the adored first grandchild in a large family, and weighed 120 pounds by age seven. Instead of realizing the gravity of the situation, his family gave him nicknames like El Gordito and allowed him to watch hours of TV and overindulge in junk food. Hidalgo-Robert’s obesity became undeniable after the family moved to San Francisco, and he suffered through diets, sneaked food, lied to others and himself, and was taunted at school. At age 13, he was categorized as prediabetic and entered the Lucile Packard Weight Program, whose methods he used to lose nearly 70 pounds. Throughout, Bert personifies “Television” and “Obesity” as adversaries and points to a lack of self-esteem (and a lack of control on his family’s part) as factors that contributed to his weight gain. Recipes and healthy lifestyle tips are included. While Bert’s enthusiasm is admirable, the book is overly chatty (exclamation points run rampant) and flooded with extraneous details. Ages 11�up. Agent: Leticia Gomez, Savvy Literary Services. (Apr.)
VOYA - Kevin Beach
In this touching and often humorous memoir, a young Latino man from Texas recalls his childhood as the obese center of his extended family. As the first grandchild in his Central American family, he became spoiled and pampered, getting any food he wanted, watching television as long as he wished. His gross obesity was accepted and almost encouraged, and it was not until he became the object of ridicule as a teenager that he decided to diet. Alberto soon discovered it was very hard to resist the temptation to hide food and sneak extra helpings. He was also happy to sit in front of the television for hours. With a professional dietician's help, he was eventually able to make lifestyle changes and also prevent his family from enabling his bad habits. The book includes an interesting and simple diet plan that categorizes foods into green, yellow, and red light foods, a twist on the pyramid idea. Dieters can eat all the green light foods they want, but only occasional yellow light foods and no red light foods except on special occasions. Recipes for alternatives to high-calorie favorites are also included. Alberto fleshes out the book with other aspects of his life and overall is a likable character, though some of the writing is a bit corny. Teenagers, and perhaps especially Latino readers, will relate to his struggles with family expectations and sabotage. He is now slim and operates the foundation, No Child Left with a Big Behind. Reviewer: Kevin Beach
Children's Literature - RevaBeth Russell
This is not a diet book. It is the first-person account of an obese boy who became an obese teen with serious health issues. As an only child, Bert managed to control everyone as he ate his way into problems. He was one spoiled kid. It is refreshing to see his mother finally take a stand, and it is even more delightful to read how Bert starts to change. Bert does not mince words in his descriptions of his life or behavior. This kind of honesty allows him to start living healthily, and it is also what will allow readers to connect to his story. The lifestyle changes Bert has to make are not easy, but as he undertakes them, he starts to gain a sense of self-worth. The feeling increases as he learns to make more healthy changes. One technique he uses is to apply "red light," "yellow light," and "green light" analogies to food that is bad, less bad, and good (respectively). It takes Bert a while to stop deceiving himself, but eventually he does start eating right. His next step is to get control over his television addiction. Again, it is not easy, but in small steps he manages it. That leaves him time to go swimming, an activity he used to enjoy, but did not do as he got older because of spending so much time watching TV. He also discovers other activities that he enjoys, such as cooking. He includes some of the recipes that he developed, including one called "Mamina's Cooing Butternut Soup." The recipe looked appealing and I had the ingredients so, I tried it. It was remarkably good. This is the kind of book that preteens and young adults should be able to access. It is never preachy. It is just an honest open invitation to start living a healthier life, as the author did. Reviewer: RevaBeth Russell
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—A timely account of a teen's success in losing weight and improving his health. Hidalgo-Robert describes in a conversational style how he became so heavy. Nicknamed "El Gorditio" by his family, he traces his weight issues beginning with his early childhood in El Salvador and continuing into his teen years in the United States. Hidalgo-Robert explains how relationships and environmental factors contributed to his emotional state and obesity. At age 14 and weighing 230 pounds, he was diagnosed with pre-diabetes; his doctor regarded the teen's situation as a medical emergency. He then consented to participate in the Weight Control Program at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital in Palo Alto, California. With a change in attitude, the help of the program's staff, new "tools," and a more supportive family environment, the teen shed pounds and changed his lifestyle. Hidalgo-Robert's "tools" for building a healthier life can also be useful to readers. In a few spots, the text reads awkwardly, but as a whole, this is an honest, emotional, and realistic personal narrative. Six pages of black-and-white captioned photographs offer a visual record of the teen's experiences. Two color photos on the cover show a striking difference between the chubby young Alberto and his new teen physique. Healthy recipes adapted or created by the author are included. A good choice for self-help reading or as a discussion book, this is a worthy motivational resource.—Lynn Vanca, Freelance Librarian, Akron, OH
Kirkus Reviews
A disarmingly brash weight-loss memoir from the college-age creator of the Healthy Bert: No Child Left with a Big Behind Foundation. Hidalgo-Robert was dubbed "El Gordito" ("little fat boy") before he was even a year old and weighed 230 pounds at 14. The memoir opens with a lengthy indictment of not only himself for years of junk-food addiction, but also his family for being too indulgent and the pediatricians in his native El Salvador for pushing weight-loss diets. As he puts it in typically frothy style: "Read the following words carefully and engrave them on your brain: DIETS DO NOT WORK! Diets suck. Diets are unhealthy. If you want to lead a starvation-a-la-mode life, use a diet!" What does work for him is the Lucile Packard Weight Control Program, which he characterizes as focusing less on weight loss than lifestyle changes. Aside from cutting out TV ("I was screaming in my seething mind," he declaims upon learning this) those changes all seem to involve categorizing foods and limiting the intake of certain kinds, but never mind: Five years after starting, he's 69 pounds lighter. Whether or not that entitles him to claim that he's "won the battle," at least he demonstrates that the approach can lead to long-term weight loss. There's a little too much self-flagellation, but the author's age and blithely awkward prose may win points with a teen audience. (food lists, recipes, before and after photos) (Memoir. 12-18)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781558857452
Publisher:
Arte Publico Press
Publication date:
04/30/2012
Pages:
184
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.60(d)
Lexile:
790L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

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