She argues that fat itself is not the cause of disease, rather the things that often correlate to fat, and yet we view fat people's health problems as self-inflicted and deserved as a way of blaming the victim. The book is one half an overview of the research about fat, food, lifestyle and disease; the second half is devoted to helping people let go of the obsession with their weight and instead focus on healthy choices. Her main argument is that the "fat=death, fat=disease" belief so purported by our government's health agencies and our research centers boils down to correlation, not causation, and the "obesity epidemic" is blown out of proportion and manufactured by the powers that be as a way to keep us dieting and obsessed with losing weight. I agree that the correlation between obesity and disease does NOT imply causation, and people can be healthy at every size. The discussion on type 2 diabetes was most compelling to me because of the way obese people can make the requisite changes to keep diabetes under control (or even eliminate diabetes completely!), and their doctor will say "that's great, but you still need to lose weight". I take serious issue with the national narrative that obesity is caused by personal failure, and I think Dr. Bacon promotes a very valuable perspective on the way both the weight-loss and junk-food industries see our bodies as commodities, and we need to reject the cultural norm that extra fat is ugly/wrong and work on just living healthy lives. One response is to be hateful towards fat people and think obesity is unhealthy. The other response is to be a fat activist, support overweight Americans, and argue that obesity is not unhealthy. and conversely, I don't think that caring about obesity as a health issue means you have to think poorly of fat people.
I wish I'd read this book when I was fifteen!
Yes, you can be overweight and healthy, but your body can only carry so much extra weight before that excess takes a toll on the body, so there really is no such thing as HAES, despite what this author, and so many Fat Acceptance proponents say. (Not to mention the extreme hypocrisy I see from so many FA/HAES advocates when they slam/rip thin people) There's some good things in this book about not trying to conform to a societal standard of beauty, not starving yourself to become skinny, and accepting that the "ideal" standard of beauty is nearly impossible to accomplish, but then that gets weighed down with promoting HAES and trying to ignore/downplay the medical consequences of obesity, as well as pushing intuitive eating, which sounds great at first, but ignores the fact that you do have to be careful of what you eat and be aware of what you are eating and how much instead of just eating whenever you feel hungry, which is problematic because the body is meant to feel a limited amount of hunger at times, and people who eat a lot thus condition their bodies into feeling hungrier more often than they should. And that whole 95 percent of diets fail study that is used as an argument by HAES proponents?
Linda Bacon outlines all the lies we've been fed about obesity and weight loss, and she does it with impeccable science. So, in short -- if you are new to fat acceptance (FA), read this book.
THE DIET DOESN'T WORK! SO EAT FOOD. There's a decent amount of science discussed in the book and some common sense things (that have to be said because obviously people are not getting it). So stop with all the diets.
The core messages of this book are solid and timely; Listen to your body and eat real food that makes you feel good. One of the strongest parts of the book was the letters at the back of the book which were to give to family to let them know itd be great if they made no positive or negative comments about your size changing because youre focusing on health and not mere weight change. I feel this book would have been a lot stronger if the sections on nutrition were omitted entirely and the book just made the points about health being more important than weight more clearly and powerfully. Not to mention making us gain weight like crazy even if were putting everything we have into eating in a healthy way. The author says we have virtually the same genes today as our Paleolithic ancestors had so we will do best eating the same diet they did a diet which gave animal foods very special importance. Then she says that because of industrial meat farming practices the best way to emulate a Paleo diet today is to eat a diet of mostly plants with meat there as a condiment only or avoided entirely because everyone knows meat and animal fat is unhealthy. The book repeats lots of myths about fibre and omits information that explains that for some of us a lower fibre diet and fibre from vegetables and fruits only (and not grains) suits us best. Accurate information on eating what our ancestors ate and the foods our genes are best suited to is in books such as Primal Body, Primal Mind. Seeing how ignorant and misled the author was on basic nutrition theory it also made it hard to have much faith in the quality of some of the more novel ideas on body chemistry and weight regulation put forth in this book. At the end of one of the nutrition chapters the author says that if in doubt eat food that is as whole as possible and as minimally messed with as possible. But right now I couldnt give anyone a book with such problematic nutrition information in it.
While I agree with the author's view that it is counterproductive to berate oneself and go into cycles of self-hate and binging on food, I perhaps still hold on to the belief that one simply needs to positively re-frame one's journey to fitness (at a normal weight) rather than accept that one is fat for life. While I agree that it may be more physically (and emotionally) damaging for an obese person to yo-yo diet, I also continue think that an obese is likely to have more energy if they *very gradually* became fitter (and lighter).
Both are especially good for understanding how this whole fat/food issue has its roots in culture, not health.) Recovery from the diet paradigm includes learning to listen to the body's signals of hunger and satiety, and this is covered very well.
We are told that people who are fat are likely to die sooner and have more health problems.