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Food Fight The Inside Story of the Food Industry, America's Obesity Crisis, and What We Can Do About It Hardcover – August 7, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"'Food Fight' serves plenty of food for thought." -- Newark Star Ledger, September 10, 2003

"... a man the food industry loves to hate... arguably the nation's leading authority on how food environment affects waistlines." -- USA Today, August 20, 2003

"This is a fascinating, empowering book must-read filled with practical ways to take action" -- Shape Magazine, October 2003
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill; 1 edition (August 7, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071402500
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071402507
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #655,448 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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57 of 60 people found the following review helpful By takingadayoff TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 30, 2005
Format: Paperback
After reading the first few chapters of Food Fight, I thought "same old stuff." Americans are too fat, eat a poor diet, don't get enough exercise, what else is new.

After a few more chapters, I became overwhelmed with the magnitude of the problem. The fast food companies and agribusiness corporations are too powerful, health care organizations are not really interested in solving the problem, and even the schools are inundated with Channel One advertising and contracts from soft drink companies. How on earth can we even begin to address this problem? Is there any hope?

Then Brownell gets into solutions. Of course the individual needs to take responsibility and eat less, eat better, and exercise more. But communities need to demand changes, such as limits on what kind of advertising the kids see while they are in school, classes (for kids and adults) on nutrition and exercise, neighborhood walking and bicycle paths in safe places. And governments should be involved as well, providing national ad spots about health and fitness, perhaps using the anti-tobacco campaigns as a guideline.

Brownell discusses the solutions in the last part of the book, then ends with a handy summary of recommended actions. What starts as a rather depressing book turns out to be a positive, optimistic look at what we can do at different levels to tackle a growing problem.
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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 19, 2003
Format: Hardcover
It's interesting to read the comment left by a reviewer telling author Kelly Brownell to "grow up." I am not sure this person even read the book, because it's in fact the author that is urging us to wake up.
Brownell gives an astute analysis of how the food industry targets CHILDREN. In detail, Brownell discusses what has happened to make obesity so prevalent in America, and why today's kids are so fat: giant portion sizes, sodas and candy in schools, multi-million dollar cross-marketing campaigns pushing junk foods rather than healthy foods, phased-out physical education programs, computers, movies, tvs and drive-throughs that keep us sedentary. His main question is: Why is America exploiting its kids? We don't want our children to smoke cigarettes, drink, or take drugs -- we want our kids to be educated and successful -- but if they want a Big Mac with Large Fries for dinner and a Big Gulp to wash it back, or Pop Tarts and a Pepsi for lunch, that's okay? His point is it's irresponsible and until we can get people to wise up to the manipulations of the Big Food companies, our kids are going to get fat. Parents have limited control over what their kids eat at school, the commercials they see and what they choose to eat, and for the most part kids make bad choices because they are getting reinforced messages from advertising. The appeal of a pop star peddling a cheeseburger can be very seductive, as can a cereal aisle filled with products that are movie tie-ins. These kids will suffer the same way smokers suffered before the truth about nicotine came out.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Robert Adler on January 5, 2004
Format: Hardcover
After reading Kelly Brownell's factual, rational and well-balanced book about the food industry and the American obesity crisis, I came away with the realization that basically the food industry is determined to turn all of us into foie gras. As Brownell, Director of the Yale Center for Eating and Weight Disorders, and co-author Katherine Horgen methodically demonstrate, the now global epidemic of obesity is anything but a lonely individual battle against overeating. Instead, we are victims of a host of factors that tip the scales dramatically against all of us: supersizing, saturation advertising from infancy on, aggressive lobbying, fast food and sugar-laden soft drinks in schools, the high cost and difficulty of finding healthy foods, plus all the factors that keep us sitting passively rather than exercising. It's a public health problem of enormous size, and as Brownell and Horgen consistently point out, it requires a political and environmental solution.
While the authors back up their argument with authoritative research, statistics and analysis, I was most struck by some of the details they reported: baby bottles with soft-drink logos, Ronald McDonald's 100% recognition rate among American children, the 70% of eight-year-olds who rate fast foods as healthier than home cooking, the fact that feeding a family with healthy food costs 50% more than with junk food, that many "servings" are up to seven times larger than those the USDA statistics on fat, carbohydrates and calories are based on, and, as has been widely reported, the projection that the current generation of overfed, under-exercised, diabetes-and-heart-disease-prone children may be the first in recent history to live shorter lives than their parents and grandparents.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By "bethbabbin" on August 25, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I am the mother of three small children and I loved this book! Any parent who has gone to the grocery store with a preschooler knows the challenge of simply getting down the cereal aisle or past the candy counter without a fight. This book systematically examines all of the environmental forces that influence how we eat, and how our children are fed. What I liked most about this book were the suggestions of how we can try to make changes in our own communities -- we don't have to sit by and let our children be the targets of advertisers. I felt inspired by this book to get involved with my local school and make it a healthier place for our chidren.
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