The Hundred Year Diet: America's Voracious Appetite for Losing Weight

Overview

A lively cultural history of the American weight loss industry that explores the origins of our obsession with dieting

As a nation battling an obesity epidemic, we spend more than $35 billion annually on diets and diet regimens. Our weight is making us sick, unhappy, and bigger than ever, and we are willing to hand over our hard-earned money to fix the problem. But most people don’t know that the diet industry started cashing in long before the...

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The Hundred Year Diet: America's Voracious Appetite for Losing Weight

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Overview

A lively cultural history of the American weight loss industry that explores the origins of our obsession with dieting

As a nation battling an obesity epidemic, we spend more than $35 billion annually on diets and diet regimens. Our weight is making us sick, unhappy, and bigger than ever, and we are willing to hand over our hard-earned money to fix the problem. But most people don’t know that the diet industry started cashing in long before the advent of the Whopper.

The Hundred Year Diet is the story of America’s preoccupation with diet, deprivation, and weight loss. From the groundbreaking measurement of the calorie to World War I voluntary rationing to the Atkins craze, Susan Yager traces our relationship with food, weight, culture, science, and religion. She reveals that long before America became a Fast Food Nation or even a Weight Loss Nation, it was an Ascetic Nation, valuing convenience over culinary delight.

Learn how one of the best-fed countries in the world developed some of the worst nutritional habits, and why the respect for food evident in other nations is lacking in America. Filled with food history, cultural trivia, and unforgettable personalities, The Hundred Year Diet sheds new light on an overlooked piece of our weight loss puzzle: its origins.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Susan Yager has given us a delightful breeze through a century of American dietary prescriptions, from Dr. Kellogg to Michael Pollan. What to do? We still haven’t figured out how to keep our food appetites to reasonable limits.”

—Marion Nestle, Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University and author of What to Eat.

 

“By dissecting the aesthetic, moral and commercial basis of our obsessions with eating, The Hundred Year Diet illuminates the path to a healthier, and saner, food future.”

—Brian Halweil, author of Eat Here and publisher of Edible Manhattan, Edible Brooklyn and Edible East End

"Worries over overeating, as Susan Yager interestingly reminds us in "The Hundred Year Diet," preoccupied the public long before Americans en masse became so massive...Ms. Yager's bite-sized chapters are easy and pleasant to digest as she takes us through America's fat-fighting history, from its now comical-seeming beginnings through the wild pendulum swings of the late 20th century (when carbohydrates and fats alternated as public enemy No. 1) to the promise of the fat-substitute Olestra (with its regrettable intestinal consequences) and today's gastric bypass surgery for the severely obese."

— Meghan Cox Gurdon, The Wall Street Journal

 

"A fascinating read."

— Abigail Zuger, M.D., The New York Times

 

"Far-reaching, well-researched survey of America's fascination with diets."

— Peggy Brown, Newsday

 

 

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781605290119
  • Publisher: Rodale Press, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/11/2010
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.46 (w) x 9.32 (h) x 0.92 (d)

Meet the Author

Susan Yager is an adjunct instructor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University and has written for a variety of publications on the topics of food and sexual health. She lives in New York City and the East End of Long Island with her husband and two cats.

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Table of Contents

Foreword

Introduction

PART ONE: THE FOUNDING FATHERS

1 Sex, Indigestion, and Weight Loss 3

2 America, What's your Weight? 18

PART TWO: YOU'RE PERFECT; NOW DIET!

3 Prohibition, Depression, and Banana Cream Pie 39

4 Death by Dinitrophenol 48

5 Weight-Loss Moratorium 52

6 Who Needs Carbs? 60

PART THREE: HOW TO START AN EPIDEMIC

7 A Plague is Born 71

8 "How Do I Lose Weight Fast?" 88

9 Pure, White, and Deadly 100

10 Dieting by the Book 107

11 Eat Fat, Get Thin 113

12 Don't Start the Revolution without Atkins 123

13 The Thinking Man's Diet 129

14 America, We Have a Situation 135

PART FOUR: THE DAWNING OF THE AGE OF OBESITY

15 How Much Should I Weigh Again? 147

16 Diets are Like Streetcars 151

17 How Much Should I Exercise Again? 160

18 Fat-Free Fat 169

19 The Pill on the Cover of Time 172

20 Any Other Options, Doctor? 179

21 Are We Just Really Hungry? 187

22 What Epidemic? 191

PART FIVE: WEIGHING IN ON THE FUTURE

23 The Mysterious Case of the Diet Doctor 197

24 Genetics, Chemistry, and a Plastic World 202

25 The 7 Percent Solution 208

26 The 100-Year Diet 213

Conclusion: The Obesity Triangle 220

Bibliography 223

Endnotes 227

Acknowledgments 254

Index 256

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