Losing It: America's Obesession with Weight and the Industry That Feeds On It

Overview

America's never-ending quest for slimness bombards us from every television screen, drugstore aisle, and shopping mall. In this fast-paced and fascinating expose, veteran journalist Laura Fraser goes undercover to look at this country's obsession with being thin. Her meticulously researched journey through Dietland shows how the biggest hucksters since P. T. Barnum create and exploit our worries about weight. Fraser's reporting takes her inside doctors' offices, marketing seminars, weight-loss spas, and medical ...
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New York 1997 Hard cover First edition. New in new dust jacket. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. With dust jacket. 336 p. Audience: General/trade. New, mint, first edition. ... "Laura Fraser's meticulous investigation of the science and economics driving this (dieting industry), leaves no doubt that an emphasis on dieting as a health intervention is misplaced and doomed to failure, " Karen Johnson, M.D. Stanford University Institute for Research. Great gift for any person struggling to lose weight. Read more Show Less

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Overview

America's never-ending quest for slimness bombards us from every television screen, drugstore aisle, and shopping mall. In this fast-paced and fascinating expose, veteran journalist Laura Fraser goes undercover to look at this country's obsession with being thin. Her meticulously researched journey through Dietland shows how the biggest hucksters since P. T. Barnum create and exploit our worries about weight. Fraser's reporting takes her inside doctors' offices, marketing seminars, weight-loss spas, and medical conferences. Posing as a patient, she investigates diet doctors and weight-loss scams, undergoing injections, hypnosis, and cookie diets along the way. She interviews weight-loss celebrities such as Richard Simmons, Susan Powter, and Dean Ornish. The results are eye-opening, dramatic - and entertaining. She convincingly demonstrates that far from helping most people lose weight, the vast majority of these Dietland profiteers contribute to our weight obsession - and our obesity.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
As a former bulimic, freelance writer and contributing editor at Health magazine Fraser had a personal interest in the exemplary research she undertook for this readable and convincing expos of the diet industry. Fraser traces the cult of weight loss back to the late 19th century, when the ideal of the plump woman (albeit in corsets) was replaced by photographer Charles Dana Gibson's concept of the slender female-the Gibson Girl. Since then, a huge industry has developed that promises weight loss to women who are manipulated to believe that thinner is better. Fraser interviewed those who profit from promoting weight loss, including doctors advocating controversial weight loss surgery (an estimated 25,000 procedures are performed annually), TV diet gurus, organized weight loss groups and sellers of liquid diets. According to the author, not only are diets counterproductive but liquid products are dangerous, low-fat foods are a waste of money and some physicians who are obesity specialists are also involved in diet product corporations. A program of regular exercise, a well-balanced diet and a refusal to accept "ridiculous" weight standards will help people to live cheerfully in their bodies, Fraser stresses. (Jan.)
Library Journal
Despite the proliferation of the weight-loss industry, some reports claim that 30 percent of Americans are endangering their health by being overweight. In this powerful and fascinating book, Fraser, a contributing editor at Health magazine and a former dieter and ex-bulimic, proves that, in fact, only eight percent of the population is obese enough to have health problems, while the passion for unrealistic thinness contributes to both physical and emotional illness. The issues examined include the evolution of the thin ideal, the techniques of fat doctors and weight-loss centers, and the many manifestations of "dieting," including some major distortions of fact that the industry uses to buttress its sales pitches. Health is a matter of proper food balance and exercise, not mere thinness, and antidiet research like Fraser's may help us overcome our self-destructive quest for an impossible, unhealthy ideal. Highly recommended.-Susan B. Hagloch, Tuscarawas Cty. P.L., New Philadelphia, Ohio
Sara Kelly
Laura Fraser's "Losing It" not only debunks every weight loss myth you've ever heard (and many more you haven't), but also serves up some surprisingly digestible prose. Fraser, a contributing editor at Health magazine, is no fast-talking diet guru ù though she does include a chapter on the subject. She isn't even thin. An ex-bulimic and calorie counter from age five, Fraser has at last made peace with her pudgy (but healthy) body, and advises her presumably frustrated, perpetually yo-yo dieting readers to do the same.

Americans blow nearly $50 billion a year on fad diets and weight-loss schemes, Fraser writes, the best of which don't work, and the worst of which can result in heart attacks or strokes. She fleshes out all those horror stories you've heard ù women who've died from dieter's tea, or who've lost all hope of controlling their bowels after undergoing intestinal bypasses ù with her own sad diet tales. She describes her teenage run-in with the calorie Nazis at Weight Watchers and the hypnotist who programmed her, at age 13, to associate pizza with bony pork gristle and chocolate chips with rat turds.

Fraser is a stalwart researcher, tracing woman's changing form from Victorian days ù when America's most fashionable females tipped the scales at 200 pounds ù all the way to the current Kate Moss backlash that has angry fat advocates spray-painting "Feed Me" on bus shelter advertisements. Though not a single diet icon escapes Fraser's criticism, her reporter's instinct prevails, and her attacks are balanced by moments of humanity. Consider this morsel from her conversations with Richard Simmons: "He broke out alternately into tears and Broadway songs as we talked." Or from breakfast with the voluble Susan Powter: "Powter orders with enthusiasm ... and eats with real gusto, which is a rare quality in a woman, one that I admire."

Fraser spurs readers to rebellion by recommending that they "boycott the diet industry." Weight, after all, is "not a matter of health or discipline but a weapon our culture uses against us to keep us in our place and feeling small." -- Salon

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780525938910
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 1/1/1997
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 9.42 (w) x 6.32 (h) x 1.22 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction: Adventures in Dietland 1
Ch. 1 The Inner Corset 16
Ch. 2 The Truth That Will Change Your Life (Only $39.95): Diet Gurus 50
Ch. 3 Ten Pounds in Ten Days: Diet Scams 80
Ch. 4 No Satisfaction: Fat-Free and Fake Foods 118
Ch. 5 Were You Good This Week? Commercial Diet Groups 138
Ch. 6 First, Do No Harm: Diet Doctors 164
Ch. 7 Thinking Disorders: Obesity Researchers 209
Ch. 8 A New Paradigm: Anti-Diet Researchers 233
Ch. 9 "Eat Your Vegetables and Go Outside and Play": Anti-Diet Health Strategies 253
Ch. 10 Throwing Our Weight Around: Rebelling Against the Diet Culture 282
Acknowledgments 295
Notes 298
Bibliography 312
Index 317
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