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Why Women Need Fat: How "Healthy" Food Makes Us Gain Excess Weight and the Surprising Solution to Lo sing It Forever Hardcover – December 29, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

William D. Lassek, MD, is a former assistant Surgeon General and currently assistant professor in the department of epidemiology at the Graduate School of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh.

Steven J.C. Gaulin, PhD, is professor of anthropology at the University of California at Santa Barbara and the editor in chief of Evolution and Human Behavior. Visit

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Hudson Street Press; 1 edition (December 29, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594630852
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594630859
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #756,748 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By chickieD on March 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This book tied together a lot of information about diet into a fascinating new theory. It was both entertaining, well-written, and intellectual.

Although it is pitched as a diet book, the authors' expertise is not in the area of nutrition. They are a psychological anthropologist and an epidemiologist. They address an aspect of weight gain that is unique to women, the normal weight gain that is related to fertility and child-bearing, which no other book I've read on diet or exercise discusses or explains.

This book grabbed me right from the start with a example of how a woman had gained weight during her lifetime because this theoretical everywoman gained weight exactly as I had! Their theories of why women are thin when they are young and why they gain weight as they age are not the same old tropes about diet but fascinating new research about why women's hips and waists are thin when they are young and expand as they age.

Their explanation of the different types of fatty acids (Omega 3s and 6s) is the clearest explanation I have ever read.

The diet recommendations portion was too conceptual. It seemed tacked on in order to turn this from a book that would languish on the Anthropology aisle to a best seller in the Diet section. The authors had not supervised anyone on this kind of diet nor could they document any results with women following their recommendations. Further research shows that the studies just don't back up what they advise. Even so, I felt the information helped me to evaluate some of the new diet research for myself.

I found the thread they follow throughout the book of looking back not to our caveman foremothers but simply back one generation to how our grandmothers ate be inspiring and do-able.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Millie on February 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I have read many, many nutrition books in the last couple of years. I highly recommend this book, especially to women. The authors make an excellent case of the fact that women need fats in order to bring healthy children into the world. So, gradually gaining weight through a woman's life is normal and should be accepted (models are not normal). On the other hand, Americans in general are much heavier than we used to be in past decades and some are unnaturally obese. The excess weight leads to systemic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, inflammation, etc. For decades, we have been led to believe that saturated fats are to blame and we should turn to vegetable oils such as corn, soybean, sunflower, and others that are hydrogenated or partly hydrogenated in order to increase shelf life and enhance flavor. In this book, the authors explain that we humans evolved to be able to process saturated fats and those fats are not the cause of our predicament. The problem lies on the barrage of omega 6 rich vegetable fats we have incorporated into our diets in the past few decades due to the incorrect belief that saturated fats are bad for us.

Humans need a balance of omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids in order to maintain a healthy weight. The brain constantly monitors this balance in the blood and when it finds we are deficient in one of these fatty acids, it instructs the body to retain more fat in order to fix the imbalance and regain equilibrium. Partly hydrogenated oils such as corn and soybean oil are super rich in omega 6 and very deficient in omega 3. Since our diets contain such an abnormal amount of omega 6 (try to find something in the supermarket that does not contain these oils), our brain must regain the balance by telling the body to retain fat.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By J. S. Norton on October 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is one of the most useful books I've read on weight and nutrition in recent years (and I've read a lot). It's not the whole story but provides a really important (essential) piece of the puzzle that is not covered in any other book. Note that it is solely focused on women.

--Pulls together a lot of research on why women are the shape we are, how fats of various types are related to our shape and size, how this has changed over time and across cultures.
--Your body's natural or expected weight--a few different methods to work this out.
--Reasons not to lose weight, what is a "reasonable" weight.
--Why it is so hard to lose weight and why most female dieters repeat a cycle of losing and regaining weight, ender up a bit bigger each time
--The only effective way to lose weight if that's what you want
--Specifically about women's bodies--most books are about men's bodies but don't acknowledge the fact (most authors aren't even aware that there are crucial differences and that most research is on men's bodies).

--The authors confuse correlation with causation in some sections, even though they make a point of not doing so in others. e.g. Surveys have found that women who are thin eat x,y, or z, therefore it's OK to eat x, y, or z.
--In spite of the emphasis on the importance of Omega 3 fatty acids, there is no discussion of how fragile these fats are, especially the effects of oxygen and heat (including cooking, processing, etc.) The authors recommend Canola Oil--which, due to the amount and type of processing used to make it palatable, makes it a very unhealthy fat (plenty of thorough research on this, see e.g. Weston A Price website). A very important omission.
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