Fat nation A history of obesity in America

Jonathan Engel

Book - 2018

"Fat Nation is a social history of obesity in the United States since the second World War. In confronting this familiar topic from a historical perspective, Jonathan Engel attempts to show that obesity is a symptom of complex changes that have transpired over the past half century to our food, our living habits, our life patterns, our built environments, and our social interactions. He offers readers solid grounding in the known science underlying obesity (genetic set points, complex endocrine feedback loops, neurochemical messengering) but then makes the novel argument that obesity is a result of the interaction of our genes with our environment. That is, our bodies have always been programmed to become obese, but until recently neve...r had the opportunity to do so. Now, with cheap calories ubiquitous (particularly in the form of sucrose), unwalkable physical spaces, deteriorating rituals and norms surrounding eating, and the withering of cooking skills, nearly every American daily confronts the challenge of not putting on weight. Given the outcomes, though, for those who are obese, Engel encourages us to address the problems and offers suggestions to help remedy the problem."--Amazon.com.

Saved in:

2nd Floor Show me where

1 / 1 copies available
Location Call Number   Status
2nd Floor 362.196398/Engel Checked In
Lanham, Maryland : Rowman & Littlefield [2018]
Main Author
Jonathan Engel (author)
Physical Description
v, 209 pages : illustrations, portraits ; 24 cm
Includes bibliographical references (pages 193-195) and index.
  • 1. An Old Problem
  • 2. Whence Cometh Fat?
  • 3. The Unwalkable Landscape
  • 4. Changing Lives
  • 5. Changing Food/Changing Meals
  • 6. Addicted to Food
  • 7. Finding the Off Switch
  • 8. Exercise, Drugs, and Surgery
  • 9. Self-Control
  • 10. Disparate Impacts
  • 11. What Is to Be Done?
  • Notes
  • Selected Bibliography
  • Index
  • About the Author
Review by Choice Review

Fat Nation provides a comprehensive and engaging analysis of the reasons behind the obesity crisis in the US. Although popular messages suggest that obesity is a function of lack of willpower or unwise choices about diet and exercise, Engel (health policy and management, Baruch College, CUNY) steps back and considers the larger historical and social context. He documents the magnitude of the obesity problem, including its harmful consequences for both individual health and national healthcare expenditures. He then explores the reasons behind the crisis, citing complex social changes of the past century, including the movement from physical to sedentary work and the decentralization of communities accompanied by reliance on car travel (rather than walking). He offers innovative and occasionally controversial strategies for eradicating obesity, most notably changing how food today is produced, regulated, and consumed, and redesigning neighborhoods and transportation systems. Importantly, he recognizes that "willpower" is not enough. Economic and workplace policies must mitigate the relentless demands of work and family, which may lead even well-intentioned Americans to eat more and move less than they would like. This thought-provoking read will enrich courses including medical sociology, public health, history of medicine, and nutrition. Summing Up: Recommended. All readers. --Deborah Suzanne Carr, Boston University

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review

The average American adult doesn't walk much (not even one-third of a mile per day) yet finds time to watch lots of TV (about 4 hours daily) and consume heaps of sugar (almost 3 pounds weekly). It's no wonder that two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight or obese. But obesity is complicated. Overeating and sedentary lifestyles are only part of the picture. Calories are now pretty cheap and readily available in America. The design of our communities often discourages walking; transportation is mostly mechanized, and many jobs are less physically exerting than in the past. Sugar and high fructose corn syrup, ubiquitous in prepared food, are implicated in the rising rate of obesity. Engel even suggests that human beings have "evolved to be lazy." Different types of diets, weight-loss medications, and bariatric surgery are briefly reviewed. The addictive makeup of manufactured food, the peril of snacking, and the elimination of home economics curricula are discussed. The message is obvious but still urgent: If our food and surroundings don't change, our body fat and health risks will surely swell.--Tony Miksanek Copyright 2018 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Library Journal Review

This ambitious effort from U.S health and social welfare policy scholar and CUNY professor Engel (Unaffordable: American Healthcare from Johnson to Trump) details the cultural history of U.S. obesity. The author argues that critical changes to the workforce and the decentralization of communities, paired with the introduction of technology, most notably automation, have drastically contributed to a rise in obesity in post-World World II America. Coverage on health disparities is sufficient, providing adequate correlations of the income gap in obesity. While engaging topically, the arguments are not well supported by current scientific literature, which results in a mostly sociocultural survey of obesity. The references rely heavily on consumer health books and popular news magazines (Newsweek, Time, New York Times Magazine) while peer-reviewed content is cited from a limited number of core journals (Journal of the American Medical Association, American Journal of Public Health, New England Journal of Medicine, and Science). Because of this, the generalized surface-level research lends itself to a more leisurely read than a rigorous scholarly examination of the history of obesity. VERDICT Recommended for casual health and wellness readers.-Carolann Curry, Mercer Univ. Lib., Macon, GA © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.