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Rethinking Thin: The New Science of Weight Loss - And the Myths and Realities of Dieting | [Gina Kolata]

Rethinking Thin: The New Science of Weight Loss - And the Myths and Realities of Dieting

In this eye-opening audiobook, New York Times science writer Gina Kolata shows that our society's obsession with dieting and weight loss is less about keeping trim and staying healthy than about money, power, trends, and impossible ideals. Rethinking Thin is at once an account of the place of diets in American society and a provocative critique of the weight-loss industry.
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Publisher's Summary

In this eye-opening audiobook, New York Times science writer Gina Kolata shows that our society's obsession with dieting and weight loss is less about keeping trim and staying healthy than about money, power, trends, and impossible ideals.

Rethinking Thin is at once an account of the place of diets in American society and a provocative critique of the weight-loss industry. Kolata's account of four determined dieters' progress through a study comparing the Atkins diet to a conventional low-calorie one becomes a broad tale of science and society, of social mores and social sanctions, and of politics and power.

Rethinking Thin asks whether words like willpower are really applicable when it comes to eating and body weight. It dramatizes what it feels like to spend a lifetime struggling with one's weight and fantasizing about finally getting thin. It tells the little-known story of the science of obesity and the history of diets and dieting: scientific and social phenomena that have made some people rich and thin and left others fat and miserable. And it offers commonsense answers to questions about weight, eating habits, and obesity, giving us a better understanding of the weight that is right for our bodies.

©2007 Gina Kolata; (P)2007 Tantor Media Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Kolata may be the best writer around covering the science of health...This book will change your thinking about weight, whether you struggle with it or not." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

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  •  
    iBeth Florida 08-15-07
    iBeth Florida 08-15-07 Listener Since 2005
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    "worth listening to"

    This book surveys the latest scientific obesity research--it is not a motivational diet book. In fact, other diet books seem rather naively hopeful once you hear this one. I have much more sympathy for severely obese people now, and I am more skeptical of panicked news reports about the obesity epidemic. Kolata never mentions the National Weight Control Registry, and I wondered why. She does very clearly outline complex information about genetic and hormonal influences on body weight, and the research stories are fascinating. This book is read well, though I preferred the reader for Kolata's earlier book, Ultimate Fitness.

    26 of 26 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jonathan indianapolis, IN, United States 01-17-11
    Jonathan indianapolis, IN, United States 01-17-11 Member Since 2007
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    "more than willpower"

    this book is about the neruoscience behind our BMI. most people stay within a 20-30 pound range for most of their adult lives without giving it much thought. for others, losing 20-30 pounds wouldn't even be that noticible. to sum up what the author is getting at, i'll give two of my own examples. first) when most people go sightseeing in a major city, they look at the buildings and shops, ect. when they get hungry, they begin focusing on the resturants where they are likey to eat a little too much. but after eating, they generally don't think about food again for hours. for really fat people (like myself), the resturants are what grab our imagination first. even if it's only been a few minutes since the last meal, our minds will focus on the all the tastes that there are to explore. thus even if we do succeed in losing weight, it becomes a 24/7/365 inner struggle not to gain it back. like a recovering alcoholic, the desire to relapse, to go binge, is always there, nagging loudly like a spoiled child. second) at the other end of the spectrum you have people like sylvester stalone. he did a movie once where he had to let himself go. stop working out and gain several pounds of fat. he's said it was one of the hardest things he's ever done. for him, the inner nag kept telling him to go workout. once filming was over, he lost weight and got back in shape with a speed almost everyone would envy. this book is about the emerging science and psycology that is trying to explain why stalone can't help being in shape; and why people like john candy have such a hard time simply losing weight. if i had one book i wish everyone would read, it's this one. it's not offering excuses or permission to be fat. rather it is trying to explain that for many people, changing their bodyweight takes more than willpower.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marcelo new york, NY, USA 01-27-10
    Marcelo new york, NY, USA 01-27-10
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    "Life changing"

    The information in this book is absolutely essential to all humans suffering with weight problems. Ms Kolata's book explains the new findings in the scientific field, without ever being boring. In fact, the book can be listened to, almost as if it were a novel, as the listener follows the story of the people participating in a weight loss study and also when she masterfully narrates the countless attempts and experiences implemented over the centuries to fight this ILLNESS. All this with the pleasing colloquial tone of Ellen Archer.
    This book has really changed the way I see my weight problem and how to fight it. In a nutshell, it gives you a real dimension of your ENEMY'S SIZE.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brad Aurora, CO, USA 06-09-10
    Brad Aurora, CO, USA 06-09-10 Member Since 2005
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    "Not a diet book but a NON diet book"

    This book is the best book I have ever listened to about diets and science. The book goes into detail about the modern myths and how little science knows about trying to loose weight. How many of the popular diets came about is shocking and how little science has gone into them. It is a must read because you learn it is lifestyle not BMI that determines your quality of life. BRAVO!!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer United States 01-07-13
    Jennifer United States 01-07-13 Member Since 2010
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    "One of the worst"

    I found this book very insulting, and if I was seriously obese, I probably would have quit listening to it after the frist chapter. Throughout the book, she continued to reference overweight people as being 'fat'. And she cited many insulting situations such as fat people get lower paying jobs, and fat people have no social lives, and she listed all kinds of horrible nicknames people call overweight people. It also did not offer any diet advice; more so just a lot of history dating back to the 1800's on the history of diets.

    Definite two thumbs down.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
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    karen schneider 06-07-12 Member Since 2011
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    "a good excuse to skip dieting"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    it was informative, but depressing


    What was most disappointing about Gina Kolata’s story?

    I had hope for good insight on sucessful dieting, all I got was ways that had failed


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    denise United States 03-05-12
    denise United States 03-05-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Not what expected"

    All this book talks about is different types of diets starting back in the dark ages. Kept waiting for pros and cons of different diets but never got any. I listened to the end thinking I was going to learn something but it boiled down to everyone is different. Waste of time

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
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    Laura Baytown, TX, United States 12-19-11
    Laura Baytown, TX, United States 12-19-11 Member Since 2005
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    "Everyone should listen to this book"
    What made the experience of listening to Rethinking Thin the most enjoyable?

    It is not a


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Rethinking Thin?

    The story of the man who had tried every diet and would lose and then regain plus some. So true.


    What does Ellen Archer bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    She is a very good reader and audio books allow me to keep up with my reading while I am commuting.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It made me know that what I have always known, I am different and everyone else needs to understand that different does not mean wrong.


    Any additional comments?

    Again, everyone should read this, especially anyone in medicine.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kenneth LEESBURG, VA, United States 11-20-11
    Kenneth LEESBURG, VA, United States 11-20-11 Member Since 2005

    Old & fat, but strong; American, Chinese, & Indian (sort of); Ph.D. in C.S.; strategy, economics & stability theory; trees & machining.

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    "The Book You Want Others to Read"

    This is the book you wish others would read, but it may be bad for you to read it yourself. This is the definition of a dangerous meme. So, although I recommend this book, you’ve been warned; I gained 10 pounds because of reading it.

    The book includes a lot of history on western thinking about how to lose weight. The separation caused by time makes the silliness these ideas rather apparent. The book also includes summaries of a lot of scientific evaluation of these ideas.

    So the science is clear, all the common wisdom about weight loss is wrong. Usually extremely wrong! For example, changing how much you eat (within large limits) has a truly minuscule affect on your weight. The body regulates its energy usage based on how much food you find for it in order to satisfy its own idea about how much fat it needs. From an evolutionary perspective this is as it must be. But the implication is that if you eat 20% less everyday you don’t get 20% thinner, more likely you lose 0.2% of your body weight. And if you diet to lose weight, but don’t change the body’s idea of how much fat it needs, over time you’ll gain it all back. What the body thinks it needs, it eventually figures out how to get.

    So can you change the body’s idea of how much fat it needs? Yes, because people do it; these are the only people who “keep the weight off”. But no one knows how it’s done. The science shows most things that people claim have this affect, don’t work for most people (but might work for the people making the claim).

    The book stops here, and left me with an intense desire to give up.

    My own theory is that the body’s internal fat goal has an epigenetic control. Things you do either deliberately or as a side effect of life change your epigenetics, resulting in semi-permanent changes to your body’s fat goals. It is believed that the kinds of things that cause epigenetic changes are mostly semi-traumatic. There are two problems: 1) the kind of intervention that results in such a change may be rather dependent on the environment and 2) the necessary changes for a desired outcome may depend rather strongly on your existing epigenetics; that is, they are highly individualistic.

    So the intervention that works for you is unlikely to work for someone else and vice versa.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bob Tinley Park, IL, USA 07-24-09
    Bob Tinley Park, IL, USA 07-24-09
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    "Not what i expected"

    Spent to much time with diet theories in late 1800s&1900s. Showing theories that did not work
    Lots of dry research data.Was hoping for more insight into present day myths & solutions.Bottom line was chemical imbalance was the major cause for obesity.

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
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