Picks and Pans Review: Rethinking Thin
REVIEWED BY SUE CORBETT
Americans are fatter than ever, but is obesity really Public Health Enemy No. 1? Kolata, a New York Times science writer, questions the current chest-beating in this sobering examination of why diets fail. She follows eager participants—like Carmen, a teacher who had lost and regained "a whole person over my lifetime"—in a two-year University of Pennsylvania diet study. After initial weight loss, they hit a plateau and started backsliding—results that wouldn't surprise the many obesity researchers who believe body weight is inherited, much like height. "Lean people think ... they are morally superior," one scientist told Kolata, but they're really just winners of the genetic lottery.
It isn't willpower, then, but a battle against biology—an especially pointless one given that new studies show "having a bit of extra fat appears to be protective," Kolata concludes. Bottom line: Go ahead and have that dessert.
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