This is a book that should be read by everyone with a "weight problem." Oliver does a terrific job of showing how the so-called obesity epidemic has little to do with genuine health concerns. Instead, not surprisingly, it's all about money: drug manufacturers who finance "obesity institutes" that hype the dangers of overweight to sell diet drugs; diet and exercise companies with a vested interest in convincing people that their excess pounds are hazardous to their health; bariatric surgeons who want your insurance money; researchers who find that focusing on the dangers of obesity greatly improves their chances of getting grant money and publishing their findings.
Oliver isn't saying that it's OK to weigh 400 lbs; instead, he points out that (except in the most extreme cases) the dangers of overweight and the benefits of losing weight are greatly exaggerated -- in fact, trying to lose weight can be more harmful to one's health than staying fat, and very thin people are often far less healthy than fat people. Numerous studies (which he cites in detail) have disproved the conventional wisdom, but these are routinely ignored or misinterpreted. He also points out that the main reason that the incidence of obesity has increased in America is not that Americans have gained a lot of weight, but rather that the threshold for classifying someone as "obese" has been lowered (duh!).
Oliver's most noteworthy point, I think, is this: excess weight is not the problem, it's a symptom. The real culprits in "weight-linked" diseases aren't the pounds themselves, but the behaviors and conditions associated with them. Fat people who exercise are healthier than thin people who don't; following a healthy diet is beneficial even if it doesn't lead to weight loss; and many conditions (such as insulin resistance) are likelier to be the cause of excess weight, rather than the other way around.
From my own experience, I can confirm Oliver's contention that doctors' obsession with weight loss as a cure-all often diverts them from dealing with the real problem. High blood pressure runs in my family, and afflicts both fat and thin people; but the same doctors who prescribed medication for my thin relatives told me that ALL I had to do was lose weight and my blood pressure would go down. After 30 years (!), during which my weight was all over the map while my blood pressure steadily climbed, I finally found a doctor who listened to reason, and I've kept my blood pressure under control ever since with medication. (Footnote: A few years later, I lost 40 lbs -- and my blood pressure didn't budge.)
Being a political scientist and a statistician, Oliver also offers his conclusions about the social implications of fat, which I found interesting but not always convincing (his argument for why thinness is valued in white women seemed rather circular to me). The chief value of the book, I think, is that he's done an excellent job of amassing the medical and statistical data, and showing that many of our assumptions about obesity are based on myth rather than fact.