How Fat Works

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Overview


An experimental pathologist and molecular geneticist, Philip Wood uses gene-knockout technology to study the way mouse genes regulate the metabolism of fat—research that provides insights into the workings of fatty-acid metabolism in humans and what can happen when that metabolic balance goes awry. Based on the classes he regularly teaches to first- and second-year medical students, Wood's book reviews the individual and public health burden of obesity and clarifies often-used, but often inadequately explained, terms employed in the continuing cultural and scientific debate about excess fat. He explains the role of fat in the healthy body, how fat is made, stored, and burned, and demonstrates how excess fat can lead to an array of metabolic disorders and diseases, from hypercholesterolemia and insulin resistance to diabetes. He reviews what recent research can tell us about specific genes or groups of genes that can lead to specific metabolic disorders. He explains the science behind common weight-loss regimens and why those regimens might succeed or fail, and reviews the complex interplay of hormones, genes, and stress in the way our bodies deal with fat through the life cycle. How Fat Works is a concise, clear, and up-to-date primer on the workings of fat, and essential reading for professionals entering careers in medicine and public health administration or anyone wanting a better understanding of one of our most urgent health crises.
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Editorial Reviews

Science News
The obesity epidemic striking industrialized nations has led to a renewed research focus on the physiological causes and effects of excess fat in the body. Scientists are striving to understand how fat is metabolized and how excess fat leads to diseases such as diabetes. Wood, a metabolic geneticist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, outlines his and others' recent findings on such topics.
Science

In How Fat Works, Philip Wood offers both professional and lay readers an excellent, nontechnical introduction to both the normal and the pathological physiology of fat metabolism...Amidst the ongoing debates over weight-loss regimes and how to formulate healthy diets for individuals, How Fat Works appears at an ideal moment. Wood writes in a clear and concise style, and he has produced an easy-to-understand overview of fat metabolism and its connections to human health. His account successfully blends results from genetic, physiologic, social, and environmental approaches to the topic. The book will help readers from any of those fields and the general public better appreciate the connections among high-fat diets, obesity, and diabetes.
— James M. Ntambi

The Lancet

How Fat Works is a saunter through the topic of fat. Philip Wood explores obesity and the diseases to which it predisposes; he describes the structure, function, and metabolism of fat; and he analyses some popular diets and their mode of action. Wood is an excellent communicator, his text refreshingly conversational and free of jargon without ever being simplistic or patronizing. This high readability factor makes the book easy to digest for rusty medics brushing up their knowledge and laypeople alike. The most fascinating chapters are the ones that cock a skeptical eyebrow at the sacred cow of the high carb, low fat regime. Endorsed for decades by health organizations, Wood presents compelling early evidence that this diet raises blood triglycerides far more than an isocaloric diet high in fats and low in carbs—the ultimate schadenfreude for oil aficionados who have for decades endured the self-righteous tutting of the pious and self-denying no-fat brigade.
— Leyla Sanai

Manila Times

[Wood's] book is an excellent summary of the state of knowledge and research on how fat metabolism is regulated. Although intended primarily for the health care professional, it's lucid enough to be read with profit by an interested layperson...It's well-worth buying and reading carefully if only to be on guard against the charlatans of the obesity industry.
— Rony V. Diaz

Journal of Clinical Investigation

This timely book raises many key issues in the field of obesity and lipid metabolism and will be useful to supplement courses for medical and graduate students. A strength of the book is that it connects the basic biochemistry and molecular biology of lipid metabolism to the clinical situation...The book will be a good catalyst for generating discussions of the controversial issues in the field. It also provides the reader with an understanding of the breadth of new knowledge that will be necessary in order to attack the obesity epidemic.
— Susan K. Fried

Times Higher Education Supplement

In How Fat Works, Philip A. Wood draws on his extensive knowledge of fatty acid metabolism to give an admirable insight into how genes, diet and exercise impact on fatty acid oxidation and synthesis, and how these processes affect us. Wood has conducted most of his own research using gene knockout models in mice: he begins with a concise summary of what we have learnt about fat metabolism by using this method, and by studying genetic disorders of obesity...Even when describing difficult biological concepts, Wood retains a lightness of touch and uses creative analogies...This is a fascinating and ambitious book, well divided into manageable chunks. It deals with an exciting and dynamic area, and it includes much cutting-edge research...The outstanding strength of this book is undoubtedly Wood's ability to describe complex metabolic processes in readable English. It will therefore be enjoyed by students, health professionals, scientists, and lay readers—all of whom may now think just a little harder before choosing what, and how much, to eat for lunch.
— Susan Carnell

Biologist

Although the target audience is primarily American medical and nursing graduate students, any one interested in the general topic of nutrition would find something of relevance...Altogether, well worth reading; you might even pick up some advice to improve your own health!

— Ian Lancaster

Clifford Lo
As the Surgeon General and FDA launch new campaigns against what they now consider the second most pressing public health concern after tobacco,
Philip Wood provides a timely review of obesity and lipid disorders. Written for the educated layperson, medical student, clinician, or researcher, this book provides the reader with an excellent appreciation of the scientific background of fat and obesity. The authoritative science is presented in English that is easy to understand, providing a good deal of reputable information in a mostly non-technical format.
Science - James M. Ntambi
In How Fat Works, Philip Wood offers both professional and lay readers an excellent, nontechnical introduction to both the normal and the pathological physiology of fat metabolism...Amidst the ongoing debates over weight-loss regimes and how to formulate healthy diets for individuals, How Fat Works appears at an ideal moment. Wood writes in a clear and concise style, and he has produced an easy-to-understand overview of fat metabolism and its connections to human health. His account successfully blends results from genetic, physiologic, social, and environmental approaches to the topic. The book will help readers from any of those fields and the general public better appreciate the connections among high-fat diets, obesity, and diabetes.
The Lancet - Leyla Sanai
How Fat Works is a saunter through the topic of fat. Philip Wood explores obesity and the diseases to which it predisposes; he describes the structure, function, and metabolism of fat; and he analyses some popular diets and their mode of action. Wood is an excellent communicator, his text refreshingly conversational and free of jargon without ever being simplistic or patronizing. This high readability factor makes the book easy to digest for rusty medics brushing up their knowledge and laypeople alike. The most fascinating chapters are the ones that cock a skeptical eyebrow at the sacred cow of the high carb, low fat regime. Endorsed for decades by health organizations, Wood presents compelling early evidence that this diet raises blood triglycerides far more than an isocaloric diet high in fats and low in carbs--the ultimate schadenfreude for oil aficionados who have for decades endured the self-righteous tutting of the pious and self-denying no-fat brigade.
Manila Times - Rony V. Diaz
[Wood's] book is an excellent summary of the state of knowledge and research on how fat metabolism is regulated. Although intended primarily for the health care professional, it's lucid enough to be read with profit by an interested layperson...It's well-worth buying and reading carefully if only to be on guard against the charlatans of the obesity industry.
Journal of Clinical Investigation - Susan K. Fried
This timely book raises many key issues in the field of obesity and lipid metabolism and will be useful to supplement courses for medical and graduate students. A strength of the book is that it connects the basic biochemistry and molecular biology of lipid metabolism to the clinical situation...The book will be a good catalyst for generating discussions of the controversial issues in the field. It also provides the reader with an understanding of the breadth of new knowledge that will be necessary in order to attack the obesity epidemic.
Times Higher Education Supplement - Susan Carnell
In How Fat Works, Philip A. Wood draws on his extensive knowledge of fatty acid metabolism to give an admirable insight into how genes, diet and exercise impact on fatty acid oxidation and synthesis, and how these processes affect us. Wood has conducted most of his own research using gene knockout models in mice: he begins with a concise summary of what we have learnt about fat metabolism by using this method, and by studying genetic disorders of obesity...Even when describing difficult biological concepts, Wood retains a lightness of touch and uses creative analogies...This is a fascinating and ambitious book, well divided into manageable chunks. It deals with an exciting and dynamic area, and it includes much cutting-edge research...The outstanding strength of this book is undoubtedly Wood's ability to describe complex metabolic processes in readable English. It will therefore be enjoyed by students, health professionals, scientists, and lay readers--all of whom may now think just a little harder before choosing what, and how much, to eat for lunch.
Biologist - Ian Lancaster
Although the target audience is primarily American medical and nursing graduate students, any one interested in the general topic of nutrition would find something of relevance...Altogether, well worth reading; you might even pick up some advice to improve your own health!
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674034990
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Philip A. Wood is Professor, Burnham Institute for Medical Research at Lake Nona.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements

Abbreviations

Introduction: Lessons from a mouse

I. The Problem

1. The Burden of Obesity

2. Diseases of Excess Fat

3. Understanding Terms

4. Disorders of Excess Cholesterol and Triglycerides

5. Insulin Resistance and Metabolic Syndrome

6. Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

II. How Fat Works

7. The Energy Equation

8. Making and Storing Fat

9. Burning Fat in the Cell

10. Single Gene Disorders of Lipid Metabolism

11. Multifactorial Genetic Disorders of Lipid Metabolism

III. Knowledge into Practice

12. Overcoming Genetics and Aging

13. Breaking the Insulin Cycle

14. Exercise to Burn Fat

15. Lipid-Lowering Drugs

16. Lessons

IV. The Environment

17. Nutrient Labeling

18. Alternative Medicine and Fad Diets

19. Media Coverage of Health Research

Glossary

References

Index

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