Gina Kolata first showed up on my radar about ten years back thanks to her excellent book ULTIMATE FITNESS which should be required reading for anyone with an interest in the history of the fitness movement from the ancient Greeks through the 18th and early 19th centuries and up through some of the crazy things that are commonplace today.
A few years later, Kolata decided to tackle nutritional topics with the same fervor, in RETHINKING THIN.
As you might guess, we get a lot of questions about diet, nutrition, losing body fat etc. and this book should be a perfect place to find some answers in an industry that is, to use a technical term, “nuts.”
In order to understand the ideas and rationale behind many of the nutritional beliefs that are commonplace today, it is necessary to analyze how and where they came from in the first place and this is the type of information that you’ll find in this book.
For example, how does the results of the Atkins diet compare with the traditional, standard, low-calorie, low-fat diet? You’ll find the some of the surprising results of that analysis in the Prologue.
Here’s a look at some of the other interesting topics that are covered in its pages:
The results of the first federally funded diet study at the Universities of Pennsylvania, Colorado and Washington University in St. Louis … Where the current dietary guidelines came from … How spousal involvement can affect weight loss … An in-depth look at how Dr. Atkins and his diet got started … A brief history of weight loss drugs (and the unfortunate aftermath)…
CHAPTER II: Epiphanies and Hucksters
Dietary Fads … A look back at 19th century dietary advice … What the Ancient Greeks had to say about diets and nutrition … Unusual (albeit non-recommended) weight-loss advice from the 1800’s … The simple technique that one man used to easily lose over 50 pounds of fat back in 1884 … The rise of Fletcherism … The cautious beginnings of the Vegetarian diet … A look at early diet and cook books and the advice they contained … The first weight loss contest… The beginnings of Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, the Beverly Hills Diet, The Scarsdale Diet and the South Beach Diet
One month into the Penn Study … The good weeks and bad weeks and good ideas and bad ideas … Willpower … Solutions to common problems?
CHAPTER III: Oh, to Be as Thin as Jennifer Aniston (or Brad Pitt)
American ideas on body image … A look at cultural ideals and the realities of beauty pageant winners through the ages … The University of Florida obesity study … Popular media and attitudes on the overweight … Ideals … The Gibson Girl … Bernarr MacFadden jumps in
Two months into the Penn Study … Behavioral modification “tricks” … Dealing with stress
CHAPTER IV: A Voice in the Wilderness
Obesity research … The mental side of weight loss … “Is obesity a mental disorder?” … Attitudes in and out of North America … The role of emotional content
Three months into the Penn Study … The “Magic” Number for weight loss success … Results of the low-calorie group … Discipline … Does counting calories really work?
CHAPTER V: A Drive to Eat
The results of the WWII-era Minnesota Weight-Loss Study … The origin of the Mediterranean Diet … SHOCKING results … “Are vegetarian diets good for preventing heart disease?” … What happens to fat cells as people lose weight? … The prison study … What determines whether someone will be fat or thin? … Identical twin studies
Five months into the Penn Study … “Are there social cues that trigger eating?” … Planning ahead
CHAPTER VI: Insatiable, Voracious Appetites
What makes you want to east? … What goes on in the brain … A unique case from 1901 … The eating control center … The roles of the pituitary and hypothalamus … A breakthrough from an unlikely source … Genetic factors … Calories over the long term
Six months into the Penn Study … Free will … Struggles … “What went wrong?” … The mind-brain divide
CHAPTER VII: The Girl Who Had no Leptin
An unusual case of obesity “lore” … The discovery of Leptin … Why some people are naturally fatter than others … Other adventures in hormones … Problems with common methods … Obesity in children
Ten months into the Penn Study … Thin clothes and Fat clothes … Stalled weight loss … Losing the iron will … Why exercise alone is not enough
CHAPTER VIII: The Fat Wars
Answering the “Why?” question … What kind of control you have-and don’t have … What scientific truths are ignored? … Society, politics, hopes and dreams … A meta-analysis of the obesity world … West Virginia and obesity statistics … What is and is not making a difference in American body weights … Sounding the obesity alarm … Cultural resonance … The National Institute of Health study … The social pressure to do something … Debating the health risks of being overweight … Liposuction
Two years into the Penn Study … Atkins diet aftermath … “Normal” weight … Lessons
Drumbeats … Weight loss psychology … “What have we gained/learned” Misconception and other diet book tactics … Soft drinks … End notes