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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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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: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,243,336 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.


"'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

Customer Reviews

3.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Lee Mellott TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 3, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Yowsa! This is a well researched account of how the food manufacturers are luring Americans into obesity beginning with our children.

Companies use product placement, product endorsement, product sizing and other factors to lure us into purchasing items that are not always the best for our health. By starting with our children, these manufacturers can capture a market and make profits for life.

Take soft drinks for example. Through active promotion, soda companies have encouraged greater consumption. According to Brownell, soda consumption in the eleven through seventeen age group has doubled within the past 20 years. Stores like 7-Eleven have increased the large size of pop from 16 oz to a 64 oz Double Gulp. Celebrities are used to push pop and brand name bottles show up on popular television shows.A twenty ounce bottle of a typical soft drink has 15 teaspoons of sugar. Is it any wonder that soda is the number one cause of obesity in children?

Brownell walks you through shocking examples of how Disney and other characters that are plastered on boxes of usually processed food items capture the child's desire. How sports heros like Michael Jordan (McDonald's) and entertainers like Garth Brooks (Dr. Pepper) are used to sell foods many of which are not in the consumers best interest.

Different manufactureres are out there lobbying to get your dollars and they are not thinking of your expanding girth or health. The sugar industry, for example, encourages the addition of sugar to everything from peanut butter to cereal to condiments to increase their bottomline (Americans consume 152 pounds per person per year).

The idea of MORE FOOD equals value is also covered. Why buy 1 taco at 89cents when you can have two for only a few cents more.
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