The author first starts by studying various techniques to reduce the amount of food people can ingest: shrinking stomachs, jaw wiring or placing gastric balloons in the stomach. She then takes a historical approach to obesity which dates back to the Middle Ages.
Scientists have discovered that weight is controlled by a sort of thermostat called lipostat. A reduced obese person is not the same as another person of the same weight because the way their brains perceive the ingestion of food is different. Indeed human eating behaviour is dictated by human physiology and the way genes orchestrate this process. For many people the fact that body weight is biologically determined still does not appear acceptable. The author then retraces all the steps leading to the discovery of leptin, a hormone functioning as a satiety factor.
From a sociological point of view obesity is regarded as a manifestation of moral turpitude. Drug makers consider obesity as a chronic condition which requires chronic attention and therefore try to design medication which must be prescribed for life. Some drugs are actually dangerous like Redux because they can cause nurotoxicity and pulmonary hypertension. Unfortunately the system of genes, peptides and hormones regulating food intakes is extremely difficult to manipulate. Having thrifty genes has less to do with metabolic rate than with one's inability to self-regulate food intake in the face of plenty.
Researchers in England hope to tease out what factors in the mother's diet affect foetal development and child health. In psychology scientists have for decades studied the connection between obesity and what is called the hedonic impact of food.
A valuable study of the war many people fight against an excess of calories.