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Passionate Crusader, Excellent Book
on February 9, 2004
Dr. Kelly Brownell has spent much of his career fighting the food industry's attempts to make us all fat. He brings a crusader's passion and a scientist's accuracy and thoroughness to "Food Fight". He and co-author Katherine Horgen see obesity as a public health crisis like smoking or drunk driving. They take the social movement against smoking as a model and call on us all to get involved, for our own sake and our children's.
This book is extremely well-referenced, drawing on scientific articles, popular journalism and books like Fast Food Nation. Brownell and Horgen reveal the huge scope of America's problem with weight and tell how the problem is spreading all over the world. They show how the food industry has penetrated schools, government agencies, and entertainment media to market sugary, fatty foods to adults and children.
Brownell is especially concerned about children, who lack the power to defend themselves against food advertising and easily available sweets. He demolishes the "personal responsibility" argument used by the calorie pushers. How can children be expected to say "no" to food that tastes good, is readily available in their schools and communities, is recommended by their favorite media characters or sports stars, and which nobody is warning them against?
The authors give dozens of suggestions for social changes that could increase physical activity (ex. bike paths), reduce soft drink consumption (ex a small tax that would go to fund nutrition education and provision of healthy school lunches), and make healthy food more available (a problem for a very large number of people in America.) They also have lots of good suggestions for political activism.
What "Food Fight" does not include is strategies for individuals and families to protect themselves and live healthier lives. That's not what the book is about - it's about the politics of food, and how we can change the environment so that healthy living becomes easier.
The writing style is clear, although not especially entertaining. But there is some humor, such as a subheading on the huge size of restaurant portions: "Nelson, party of four: your muffin is ready."
Food Fight is a political manifesto by a crusader who has already been attacked repeatedly by the food industry. He makes a strong case, one I will use in my upcoming book, "The Politics of Diabetes." I encourage readers to support Dr. Brownell and Horgen's cause.
David Spero RN, author of The Art of Getting Well: Maximizing Health When You Have a Chronic Illness (Hunter House 2002) [...]