Neal Barnard with a foreword by Dean Ornish and menus and recipes by Jennifer Raymond. Harmony, $23.95 (368p) ISBN 0-609-60631-X

Five key genes influence an individual's tastes and appetite, affect the body's tendency to store fat, adjust calorie-burning ability and determine response to exercise, explains Barnard (Foods that Fight Pain; etc.), a physician and genetic researcher; however, he argues, we can manipulate our fat genes and our thin genes (yes, everyone has both!) by implementing diet and lifestyle changes. Instead of a low-calorie diet, which he predicts will lead to later bingeing, he emphasizes a diet high in fiber (whole grains, legumes, vegetables and fruits). Moreover, Barnard claims, carbohydrates are not the enemy we think they are; instead, it's the butter, sour cream, oils or other fats people slather them with that are the problem. In a nutshell, it's not how much but what we eat that makes the real difference. To wit, he eschews animal products, including dairy, because of their fat content, and opts for a vegetarian diet to maintain both good health and proper weight. Putting his theory to the test, Barnard closes his compassionate, clearly written and well-argued book with a three-week "gene-control program" that features enticing menus and recipes. (Feb.)

Forecast: Barnard's name and fat-fighting program is about to burst onto the national stage-alongside the likes of Dr. Atkins and Barry Sears-with a 33-city tour and major TV and radio publicity. Although many readers may prefer a non-vegetarian diet, Barnard's distinctive marketing advantage-his unique insight into how we can control certain genes-offers something no other diet book does.