Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease

Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease - Robert H. Lustig This was a great book about the hormonal chains and effects of eating, and explains it in ways that are both thorough and accessible. Some of the information I had read before in my obsessive reading about fat/weight loss, but here it was put together in a systematic way to make sense of what your body is doing with what you put into it. Because I'm a social scientist, I got a bit bogged down in the last section about social policy, because his understanding of large social policies and politics is simplistic; yet I agree with his overall critique of the food industry and governmental policies on nutrition.

For me the real eye openers were: the chapter about stress and cortisol and its connection to obesity and metabolic disorders; the explanation of the liver's role in digesting both sugar & fat; the role that sedentism plays in increasing metabolic disorder and the relative miracle that daily exercise can have in reversing it; and the complexity of fructose vs. glucose.

He also busts several nutritional/weight loss myths: a calorie is not a calorie; you cannot lose weight by exercising; and all diets that eliminate sugar are successful (most successful are complete opposites, Atkins diet and Veganism, because they both eliminate sugar completely and focus the liver on one form of digestion).

One problem for me in the book is that he talks a lot about how losing weight is actually impossible, and that we should focus on health rather than weight loss. I actually agree with him, mostly, and am pleased that the negative effects of obesity on health and well-being and longevity can be eliminated by eating healthy foods—basically you should switch to whole foods, eating sugar only in the form of fruit and real whole grains (no processed grain at all, because it's just sugar)—and exercising. But I also think that he underestimates the value of something else he emphasizes, which is to change your food environment. That is one of the things that the research shows that people who are successful at weight loss do consistently. The trick is to change your food environment in a world of food abundance. I'm not quite ready to let go of my own fantasy of losing weight, although I probably should.

I was also a bit more dubious about the anti-oxidant chapters, but if I ate how he suggests, I would get plenty of them anyway, so if it turned out that we need them and in high quantities, I'd be getting them regardless.

So yeah, if you're interested in health, nutrition, obesity, or weight loss, read this book.

The fact that the food industry hates it should be endorsement enough.