Food Fight

Kelly D. Brownell, Author, Katherine Battle Horgen, Author McGraw-Hill Companies $24.95 (356p) ISBN 978-0-07-140250-7
The war against obesity must go beyond personal responsibility and will power to encompass a Gandhian mass movement against a food industry and a social order intent on fattening us, argues this fact-filled but ferocious manifesto. The authors, academics with the Yale Center for Eating and Weight Disorders, contend that our abundant, super-sized meals and our modern, sedentary lifestyles have formed a""toxic environment"" that indulges our genetic fat-storage proclivities to a pathological degree. The result is an""epidemic"" of obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and low self-esteem. Brownell and Horgen blame these side effects on a car-centric culture that has virtually criminalized walking (27% of adult Americans, they report, get""no physical activity at all"") while parking kids in front of television, video games and computers and eliminating gym classes from cash-strapped schools. But the worst villain of the book is the politically powerful food industry, which, the authors say, plies us with cheap fat and sugar while keeping healthier foods scarce and expensive, bribes schools to sell children soft drinks, and bombards children with junk-food ads from the moment they leave the womb. The authors recast the usual diet-and-exercise discourse in the rhetoric of social justice, calling for a grass-roots mobilization to fight Big Food, a""national strategic plan,"" and specific measures like junk-food taxes and banning ads that target children. Libertarians may consider this the worst kind of victimology. But the evergreen subject of American gluttony and sloth brings out the best in scientist-advocates, and the authors, while drawing on a mountain of statistics and studies, make their indictment both funny and appalling.
Reviewed on: 08/01/2003
Release date: 08/01/2003
Genre: Nonfiction
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