Fewer than one-third of American adults are considered to be at a healthy weight (p.7), yet as this volume in Greenhaven’s At Issue series demonstrates, there are a number of theories about what to do about that. The essays present a range of perspectives on cures for obesity, from weight-loss drugs to bariatric surgeries. The more pragmatic of the essays focus on careful dietary choices and exercise, but those are just two of a range of perspectives on mitigating health risks associated with being significantly overweight.
Other essays share weight management strategies that are more organizational in nature, including simple daily activity, meal planning, food tracking and weight monitoring. Nonetheless, the text emphasizes that "studies show that bariatric surgery is the only method proven to help people lose large amounts of weight and keep it off after 10 years." (p. 28). Pharmaceutical solutions explored include prescription appetite supressants to antidepressants and lipase inhibitors (including some over-the-counter diet drugs). The text also shares new medical research suggesting that viral infection could encourage some individuals to store fat on a cellular level. Other articles argue for taxing higher fat foods in an effort to curb consumption, a "market-based" solution to a public health issue. An article from a London Times writer draws a distinction between the diets of the better-nourished middle class and the heavier, sugar-dependent working class in the U.K., as well as pointing out that some other variation in weight distribution can be traced to ethnicity. Obesity, the author suggests in a Swiftian move, can only be countered with prosperity.
One article takes the counterpoint that it is our image-obsessed culture and a lack of fat-positive role models that perpetuates an unnatural obsession with thinness. Another does argue that obese people have human rights that should not be violated in the name of public health. The spectrum of ways to conceptualize obesity shared here will help students appreciate the range of points of view fighting to be reconciled in any attempt at health care reform.
The book includes a directory of organizational resources, a bibliography and an index. Typeface is large, and all articles are chunked through subheadings in a manner that will be accessible for younger researchers. Recommended for school libraries, where it will support health and physical education curricula, as well as serve as a resource for students studying social issue topics.