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The Secret Life of Fat: The Science Behind the Body's Least Understood Organ and What It Means for You
     

The Secret Life of Fat: The Science Behind the Body's Least Understood Organ and What It Means for You

5.0 1
by Sylvia Tara
 

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This groundbreaking work of practical, popular science reveals that fat is much smarter than we think.Fat is an obsession, a dirty word, a subject of national handwringing—and, according to biochemist Sylvia Tara, the least-understood part of our body.You may not love your fat, but your body certainly does. In fact, your body is actually endowed with many

Overview

This groundbreaking work of practical, popular science reveals that fat is much smarter than we think.Fat is an obsession, a dirty word, a subject of national handwringing—and, according to biochemist Sylvia Tara, the least-understood part of our body.You may not love your fat, but your body certainly does. In fact, your body is actually endowed with many self-defense measures to hold on to fat. For example, fat can use stem cells to regenerate; increase our appetite if it feels threatened; and use bacteria, genetics, and viruses to expand itself. The secret to losing twenty pounds? You have to work with your fat, not against it. Tara explains how your fat influences your appetite and willpower, how it defends itself when attacked, and why it grows back so quickly. The Secret Life of Fat brings cutting-edge research together with historical perspectives to reveal fat’s true identity: an endocrine organ that, in the right amount, is critical to our health. Fat triggers puberty, enables our reproductive and immune systems, and even affects brain size.Although we spend $60 billion annually fighting fat, our efforts are often misinformed and misdirected. Tara expertly illustrates the complex role that genetics, hormones, diet, exercise, and history play in our weight, and The Secret Life of Fat sets you on the path to beat the bulge once and for all.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
08/15/2016
Finally, a book that sheds some light on understanding body fat—specifically, its role, why it is so difficult to fight, and how it works differently for different people. This debut book by biochemist Tara takes a hot topic and explores every avenue regarding the causes of obesity: genetics, microbes, lifestyle, race, gender, and so on. Although an incredible $60 billion was spent in the U.S. in 2014 battling fat, Tara posits that fat is actually a critical organ with an essential role to play in the endocrine system. She frankly describes her own struggles with weight, which led her to realize “we are not all created equal, at least when it comes to fat.” Peppered with individual case studies, the book meticulously explains why fat isn’t “one size fits all,” particularly in terms of dieting. Tara recommends persistence as the main tool for dieters, combined with a diet “customized for you biologically, psychologically, and socially.” This genuinely enlightening book will be a revelation to those engulfed in self-blame and shame about their weight. Hopefully, individualized weight loss will become the way of the future, leading to effective new treatments for those desperately seeking them. (Dec.)
David S. Ludwig
“Body fat is so much more than a passive calorie storage depot, as Sylvia Tara brilliantly shows. Read The Secret Life of Fat to make friends with this misunderstood and critically important organ.”
Michael Dansinger
“You can outsmart your body fat, but first you must understand it! With the right lifestyle, eating, and exercise approach you can lose weight and keep it off. Learn how in this engaging and informative masterpiece.”
RL Lavie
“Dr. Sylvia Tara addresses important concepts related to the development, prevention, and treatment of obesity. This book will be a very interesting read for lay people interested in fat and obesity, as well as for many in the scientific community—I really enjoyed reading it!”
Osama Hamdy
“For years we presumed that body fat is just a depot for energy, but current science is proving that it is actually the largest endocrine gland in our body. This enigmatic organ conveys many paradoxes and surprises; depending on its location, color and genetic makeup it might be either dangerous or protective. Sylvia Tara dove deeply in science of fat and adeptly explains it all in this fascinating book.”
Tony Miksanek - Booklist
“Biochemist Tara gives readers the skinny on fat in a lively discussion that incorporates sumo wrestlers, a bloated diet industry, [and] genetics… Readers will discover that, regardless of body size and shape, fat does some heavy work on our behalf.”
Carl Lavie
“Dr. Sylvia Tara addresses important concepts related to the development, prevention, and treatment of obesity. This book will be a very interesting read for lay people interested in fat and obesity, as well as for many in the scientific community—I really enjoyed reading it!”
Melissa Wuske - Foreword
“Powerful… [Tara’s] research and insight is deeply perspective-shifting.”
Carol Saline - Hadassah Magazine
“Like comfort food for anyone carrying around a lifetime of guilt for eating an extra cookie.”
rl Lavie
“Dr. Sylvia Tara addresses important concepts related to the development, prevention, and treatment of obesity. This book will be a very interesting read for lay people interested in fat and obesity, as well as for many in the scientific community—I really enjoyed reading it!”
Library Journal
07/01/2016
Though we fight fat furiously (to the tune of $60 billion a year in this country alone), it's essential to our well-being. It affects brain size, supports our reproductive and immune systems, and is so important to the body's self-defense that fat can grow back no matter what we eat. Biochemist Tara in fact identifies fat as an endocrine organ and here argues that knowing how it functions will go a long way toward keeping us healthy.
Kirkus Reviews
2016-10-05
Americans spend more money on the war against fat than the war against terror. As Tara writes, “we are indeed a nation at war with a body part.”After the birth of her second child, the author, who has a doctorate in biochemistry and has served as a consultant for major biotech companies, struggled to hold her weight in check with a combination of diet and exercise in order to pass what she describes as the “skinny jeans” test. From her adolescence, dieting and exercise had become an obsession but not a solution, and Tara was on a roller coaster, losing extra pounds on a starvation diet and then gaining them back just by eating dinner. Her professional training fueled her determination to find out why she gained weight while her friends, who ate more and exercised less, remained thin. Examining a variety of scientific studies, she made a surprising discovery. Experiments revealed what she calls “the obesity paradox,” which showed how fat plays an important part in maintaining our overall health. While obesity is a contributing factor to heart disease, the survival rate after heart failure is better for people with “a higher body mass index and higher fat.” Tara also discovered new reports suggesting the possibility that obesity is the result of a viral infection. Ongoing research has identified people with an antibody to the virus who gained significantly greater body mass over a 10-year period. Researchers have also found that fat stores stem cells, which play a vital role in replacing bone, muscle, and cartilage in the body. For Tara, this provides a convincing explanation of why there is not a one-size-fits-all solution to the problem of maintaining a healthy weight. The author ably combines an accessible explanation of how the body’s metabolism works with a clear survey of the latest research on obesity. A book that should have wide appeal, not only to those fighting the battle of the bulge.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393244830
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
12/27/2016
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
8,764
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

Sylvia Tara holds a PhD in biochemistry from the University of California at San Diego and an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. She was a consultant with McKinsey & Company and has worked at the world’s largest biotechnology companies. Tara lives in the Los Angeles area.

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The Secret Life of Fat: The Science Behind the Body's Least Understood Organ and What It Means For You 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Darcy714 23 days ago
In The Secret Life of Fat, author Sylvia Tara takes the reader on an in-depth, fascinating exploration of the little known scientific role and highly intricate workings of fat. Tara documents her own struggles with losing fat and from there delves into the research and experiments leading up to past and current knowledge of fat, which has recently come to be considered an endocrine organ of the body. Tara covers surprising facts of fat’s usefulness like the recent discovery of adipose derived stem cells. These stem cells have the potential to regenerate soft tissue and grow bone and have already been used in some medical procedures. Tara also explores the causes of fat including genetics, hormones and even some virus antibodies. Finally, she discusses the types of fat and the way fat functions, ending with a helpful section on how to fight the bad fat to lose excess pounds. Throughout, Tara offers a remarkably readable and highly informative read providing a greater appreciation and understanding of fat. As a reader, I tend to shy away from diet and health books as the formulas always seem so pat and unlikely and the reading, highly uninteresting. That said, this book sparked my interest and I wasn’t disappointed. This is a book that is useful to layperson and health-conscious reader as it breaks the issues down but also offers a highly packed dose of facts. Perfect for helping with those after holiday weight loss goals in a reasonable and more appropriate way as well as learning about the amazingly complex way our body functions. The Secret Life of Fat provides an engaging read for all. Disclaimer: I received a free ARC of this book from the publisher on Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.