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Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World Paperback – 5 Jun 2003


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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Allen Lane; First UK Edition edition (5 Jun. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0713997397
  • ISBN-13: 978-0713997392
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 1.8 x 21.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,451,170 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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First Sentence
EARL BUTZ, nominated by Richard Nixon in 1971 to be the eighteenth secretary of agriculture, conjured the airs of a courtly midwestern grandfather, the kind who liked to show up at Sunday dinner, give the blessing, lecture the grandchildren about patriotism, free trade, the goodness of farm life, and the evils that threatened such a life - and then go out to the backyard and tell off-color jokes to the assembled adults. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Darren Simons TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 12 Feb. 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having seen a couple of scary documentaries about the obesity epidemic, I was interested to read Critser’s take on what the causes are, who can be blamed, and what can be done.
Critser focusses his attention initially to the cultural revolution in the 1970s and 80s which he sees as being the underlying cause of how the huge increase in calories basically got into the human diet – he is open and honest in his blame for government officials who with hindsight put their priorities in the wrong place and turned a blind eye to what would be considered now to be detrimental to society.
Critser then explains a little more of the science involved in the human body, what causes calories to stay, and of course the side-effects associated to obesity.
Finally he focusses on what can be done now to tackle obesity and highlights some of the problems in society and in particular schools where excuses are being made to avoid tacking the key problems head on.
Throughout the book, Critser does not hold back.. he says exactly what he thinks needs to be done and paints a frightening picture for the life expectancy of the next generation of American society.
An excellent albeit somewhat frightening read.
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47 of 48 people found the following review helpful By angharad jackson on 25 Mar. 2003
Format: Paperback
The author has come in for a lot of flack from fat-activists and others in the united states and elsewhere for a very simple reason. 'Fat Land' may explore all the issues - political, social, economic, historical - that have contributed to the staggering rise in obesity amongst Americans but he never fails to make one point abundantly clear. People get fat when they eat and drink more calories than they expend. Pretty simple equation really. Most of the critics of this book appear never to have read further than the first chapter in which Critser explains how he came to realise that he was too fat and what he could do about it. As a well-to-do white male with access to good medical care and the time and encouragement to exercise (and access to somewhere to perform said exercise) he lost weight. But if its that easy, why are so many Americans getting and staying bigger?
This is an excellent book that answers those questions examining the changes in agricultural policies that lead to the adoption of fructose and palm oil in convenience foods, how those portions got bigger to attract more customers, how fast food chains and soda drink suppliers have set up shop in underfunded schools - computers for calories - how physical education consists of more time spent changing than playing in some schools, that parks and municipal sports facilities are few and far between in the areas that need them most, that simple things like walking to work are impossible in the average American city - there are no sidewalks - and that ultimately, its expensive to be thin.
This is an engaging, entertaining book that pulls no punches in describing the costs in both human and financial terms caused by obesity that are only likely to escalate. Critser has written a brave riposte to a society that pushes self-confidence, self-esteem, self-absorption, self-celebration and self-denial. Sorry guys, fat is a three letter word.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Nothern Climes TOP 500 REVIEWER on 9 April 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a great read and I agree with the previous 2 reviewers but the thing I found truly brilliant about it, was the psychological effect it had on me. Reading a few pages a day was sufficient to 'nudge' me into starting and continuing to eat healthily, as its message about junk food and similar comes through loud and clear. If someone else can benefit like I have from a book like this, then it's got to be a good thing.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By N D Lambert on 26 Dec. 2003
Format: Paperback
This book covers all the issues surrounding American obesity without getting embroiled in political disputes or trying to massage the facts! Critser blames the food industry for its price-cutting and use of fructose, but American consumers are also accused of wanting too much too fast and ending up with fatty prepackaged convenience food. Critser's solutions are sensible and low-key, which probably means the Americans will never take notice of them. But I for one have been inspired by this book to re-examine my diet and my lifestyle. Well worth reading!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Brian Dinneen on 8 Aug. 2003
Format: Paperback
Just read it last night from cover to cover... could not put it down. Safe to say I will be trying to cut fructose products out of my diet!!
Liked the way the issue was approched from several angles.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By HORAK on 4 Feb. 2006
Format: Paperback
Mr Critser starts his study by explaining that palm oil was introduced in the US in the 1970s, cheaper and tastier than vegetable oil but containing 45 % saturated fat. At the same time, soft drink companies switched to high-fructose syrup saving the companies 20 % in sweetener costs and allowing the production of calorie-dense convenience food, the so-called "TV dinners". Still at the same time, meat production soared world-wide as feed costs of soy meal and corn fell. And so at fast food stands, portions became bigger and cheaper. "Value meals" became popular and the presence of more food for the same amount of money induced people to eat more. By the end of the 20th century, supersizing reigned in the fast food world. Another factor responsible for the rise of obesity is the habit of consuming high-calorie snacks between meals, particularly in schools where most cafeterias stopped cooking proper meals anyway in the favour of "outsourcing" - contracting an outside source to deliver pre-plated meals. The author then shows how obesity is associated with high levels of religiosity and how obesity is made to a cult on TV with some popular singers revering their own overweight body in their lyrics.
Other factors contribute to obesity: lack of physical education in schools, disproportionate TV-viewing (where up to 40% of children advertising is for high-fat foods) which can lead children to develop type 2 diabetes, particularly among the working poor who have the "impulse to eat for today, tomorrow being a tentative proposition at best". Poverty, class and income are thus the key determinants of obesity. A report from the RAND/University of Chicago states that "The economic and personal health costs of overweight and obesity are enormous and compromise the health of the United States.
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