Obesity is the public health crisis of the twenty-first century. Over 150 million Americans are overweight or obese, and across the globe an estimated 1.5 billion are affected. In A Big Fat Crisis , Dr. Deborah A. Cohen has created a major new work that will transform the conversation surrounding the modern weight crisis. Based on her own extensive research, as well as the latest insights from behavioural economics and cognitive science, Cohen reveals what drives the obesity epidemic and how we, as a nation, can overcome it.
Cohen argues that the massive increase in obesity is the product of two forces. One is the immutable aspect of human nature, namely the fundamental limits of self-control and the unconscious ways we are hard-wired to eat. And second is the completely transformed modern food environment, including lower prices, larger portion sizes, and the outsized influence of food advertising. We live in a food swamp, where food is cheap, ubiquitous, and insidiously marketed. This, rather than the much-discussed food deserts, is the source of the epidemic.
The conventional wisdom is that overeating is the expression of individual weakness and a lack of self-control. But that would mean that people in this country had more willpower thirty years ago, when the rate of obesity was half of what it is today! The truth is that our capacity for self-control has not shrunk instead, the changing conditions of our modern world have pushed our limits to such an extent that more and more of us are simply no longer up to the challenge.
Ending this public health crisis will require solutions that transcend the advice found in diet books. Simply urging people to eat less sugar, salt, and fat has not worked. A Big Fat Crisis offers concrete recommendations and sweeping policy changes,including implementing smart and effective regulations and constructing a more balanced food environment,that represent nothing less than a blueprint for defeating the obesity epidemic once and for all.
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First Trade Paper Edition
06 January 2015
Introduction PART I: HUMAN NATURE AND FOOD Chapter 1. It's Not Your Fault Chapter 2. The Limits of Self-Control Chapter 3. The Overwhelmed Brain Chapter 4. Eating Is Automatic PART II: THE FOOD ENVIRONMENT Chapter 5. Abundant and Cheap Chapter 6. A Food Desert? Try a Swamp Chapter 7. Marketing Obesity PART III: AN ALTERNATE VISION Chapter 8. A Plea for Change: We Are All in This Together Chapter 9. A Safer Food Environment Chapter 10. The Supermarket of the Future Chapter 11. Fit and Fat: What About Physical Activity? Chapter 12. In the Meantime: What Individuals Can Do Chapter 13. Conclusion Appendix: Healthier Meal Guidelines for Adults and Children Frequently Asked Questions Acknowledgments Notes Index
Deborah A. Cohen, MD, is a senior natural scientist at the RAND Corporation. Cohen received her BA at Yale University, MPH in epidemiology from the UCLA School of Public Health, and her MD from the School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania. She has served on several advisory panels for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and was a Fulbright Senior Scholar in Brazil. She lives in Santa Monica, California.
Reviews for A Big Fat Crisis: The Hidden Forces Behind the Obesity Epidemic-and How We Can End It
Cohen's writing is clear, concise, and accessible. A useful contribution, with a balanced though a more public-health approach toward reducing obesity and improving health in general. CHOICE [A] controversial but compelling solution to the obesity epidemic in the U.S. Shelf Awareness Dr. Deborah A. Cohen has written a groundbreaking book on obesity. It should be read by everybody. HuntingtonNews Cohen, an epidemiologist and medical doctor at the RAND Corporation, makes a convincing case that obesity involves far more than a failure of willpower... Cohen certainly presents a fresh, thoughtprovoking take on how to fight the obesity epidemic. Booklist (starred review) Cohen takes a behaviorist approach to identifying the antecedents for eating choices, suggesting that the focus on self-control as a key element actually undercuts efforts to make change, given people's assumptions about human nature and our genetic makeup... The author makes a compelling case. Kirkus Reviews [A] powerful book. Publishers Weekly Deborah Cohen gives us a physician's view of how to deal with today's big fat crisis. In today's 'eat more' food environment, individuals can't avoid becoming overweight on their own. This extraordinarily well-researched book presents a convincing argument for the need to change the food environment to make it easier for every citizen to eat more healthfully. Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition, food studies, and public health, New York University, and author of Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health Hundreds of diet books have failed to halt the obesity epidemic in America. If you are among the majority of Americans who are overweight--or are just someone who cares about others who are--you should read Deborah Cohen's A Big Fat Crisis instead. It will give you an entirely new perspective on this creeping disaster and on how our society can end it. Thomas Farley, commissioner of health for New York City, 2009--2013