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Fat Land by Greg Critser

Fat Land by Greg Critser. First ¼ of Fatland. Greg Critser. Author of Fat Land Medical and science journalist Other books include: “California,” “Generation Rx,” and “Eternity Soup” http://www.science20.com/profile/greg_critser. What the book does:.
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Fat Land by Greg CritserFirst ¼ of FatlandGreg Critser
  • Author of Fat Land
  • Medical and science journalist
  • Other books include: “California,” “Generation Rx,” and “Eternity Soup”
  • http://www.science20.com/profile/greg_critser
  • What the book does:
  • Timeline of the waistlines of the common U.S. citizen
  • Give specific reasons why Americans have become so obese
  • Introduces…
  • Accredits obesity to 2 basic factors arising in the 1970s:
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • “Supersizing” portion sizes.
  • High-Fructose Corn Syrup
  • cheaper sweetener” than sugar
  • sweeter taste than cane sugar
  • other chemical attributes:
  • protects food from freezer burn
  • fresh-tasting for long-shelf life products
  • made products look “more natural”
  • Thus began the life of a “metabolic shunting” ingredient soon to be used in multiple every day products.
  • “Supersizing”
  • The director of the McDonald’s Corporation came up with ideas to allow people to buy more food without looking like a glutton (which was taken seriously back then):
  • Increase portion sizes slightly, along with a slightly higher price
  • “Value meals” – a slightly higher price for more items.
  • “His message was loud and clear: more for less.”
  • And thus begins the story of
  • “how Americans became the fattest people in the world”
  • Second ¼ of FatlandChapter 3
  • Introduction:
  • In the novel “Fat Land,” the author Greg Critser relates how the lifestyles of the American people result in their overweight and unhealthy bodies. Through the following anecdote, Critser reveals how the society we live in has slowly adapted to our increased body size, and the mentality which evolved there from: big is okay.
  • Quotation:
  • “Ron Magruder, the president of the thriving Olive Garden chain of Italian Restaurants, received a telephone call from a dissatisfied customer. […] The caller, named Larry, wasn’t complaining about the food or the service or the prices. Instead, Larry was upset that he could no longer fit into any of the chairs in his local Olive Garden. Magruder […] had his staff contact the company that manufactured the chairs for the chain and ordered a thousand large-sized chairs. He then had these distributed, three each, to every Olive Garden restaurant in the nation.”
  • Explanation:
  • Through this detail which Critser presents to the reader, two aspects are absorbed. First of all, the reader realizes the confidence which “Larry” is shown to have. Instead of being embarrassed about how large he has become, he seeks to have his environment changed in order to best suit his new body size. Secondly, Magruder represents all of society at this time, instead of helping Larry, he merely pities him, and therefore allows a slight change in order to make Larry more comfortable. Through this small story, Critser allows the reader to understand the dilemma which was faced by society: the food which was so attractive to everyone for multiple reasons was making us fat. And while the results were shocking, most merely adapted instead of trying to change their lifestyle.
  • Chapter 3 deals mostly with the evolution of how people viewed health, dieting, And lifestyle in general.Chapter 3
  • Introduction:
  • In the chapter, Critser goes on to denounce the acceptance of weight gain, the rigidity and structure which was once present in meal time, and the new fad of multiple diets. Once more, Magruder receives a call from Larry, where Critser accounts for the inquiry as to how Larry was experiencing the restaurant’s efforts in order to make him more comfortable.
  • Quotation:
  • “The staff […] had wanted Larry to report what he thought of their efforts.” Resultantly, “he was happier now. Indeed, Larry’s message was entirely conciliatory - even thankful. But it wasn’t because of the bigger chairs. It was because of the old small chairs. Largely because of them, Larry explained, he had been spurred to finally confront the extent of his weight problem. Why, I the seven weeks since he had spoken to Magruder, he had lost almost fifty pounds. That tight little chair - that had been what Larry needed after all.”
  • Explanation:
  • Critser closes the chapter with a final word from Larry. First of all, it allows Critser to support his claim that the environment which we are placed in really does affect our eating. If we are given loose pants, we are led to believe we have room for more, likewise with bigger chairs. However, if a person has a belt cutting into their stomach, they will most likely stop eating, due to the undeniable evidence that they do not need more food. Also, it ties back to Critser’s identification of the craze for (easy) diets. Although he does not say what Larry did to lose weight (hopefully he changed his lifestyle in order to be healthy). As Americans began to gain more and more weight, they wanted to lose the weight without losing their gluttonous lifestyle. Therefore, dietitians created what the public wanted: quick, easy, “secrets” which taught society how to lose weight “effectively” without much difficult change.
  • Chapter 4
  • Introduction:
  • As Greg Critser moves through the novel, so does his explanation of why American’s lost sight of standard measured to be taken concerning health. In Chapter four he mentions one of the reasons why many people came to feel fine about the weight they were at, this time linking the obesity epidemic to information about weight instead of corporations and diet. Critser states that:
  • Quotation:
  • “By 1990 the weight control recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines committee had already been loosened once. In 1980 the guidelines had advised Americans to “maintain an ideal weight” - a clear, unequivocal message that anyone who could read one of those omnipresent weight-for-height charts could understand. By 1985, in the middle of the supersize revolution, the advice was altered to the more vague “maintain a desirable weight”, the better not to impose unrealistic goals upon an increasingly touchy populace. In 1990, even as obesity rates spiraled upward, the committee wanted not only to loosen the weight guidelines again, it also wanted o tdo something it had never done before. It wanted to tell Americans that it was okay to gain significant pounds as they got older.”
  • Explanation:
  • Through this information concerning the Dietary Guidelines’ weight control recommendations, we see that mindsets were being changed through the adaptation of facts in order to better suit the “comfortable” society which was evolving during this time period. Like the fast-food restaurants, the committee mentioned above was giving the public what they wanted - less restrictions and simply what they wanted.
  • Do certain body assessments induce anorexia nervosa? Are anorexia nervosa and bulimia preventing health education from being effective?Third ¼ of FatlandBy 2050, will the majority of U.S. citizens be over weight, and even more frequently, obese?By Vanessa Suarez and Rachel JoveneSummary of topic: Anorexia is not a “widespread disease” and receives attention because of the upper middle class wherefrom anorexia most often comes. Body image should be addressed, especially for children, and no, it will not result in anorexia.
  • In chapter 5, Greg Critser focuses on the problems obesity has inflicted upon the youth, and reasons why children are increasingly becoming overweight at younger and younger ages. Critser denotes poverty, class, and income to be the “key determinants of obesity and weight-related disease.”
  • While also blaming families, advertisements of fast food restaurants, and the increase in activities which do not require bodily movement (for example video games and TV), he also brings forth an interesting factor, which I had not considered before, that of the impact which the fear of anorexia may have. Critser discusses “body composition tests” which are administered generally by health education teachers in PE, “using a small pair of calipers applied to either the calf or triceps muscle.” He goes on to state that “the calipers test is one of the few ways a contemporary parent can get objective information about fatness and their child.”
  • Yet, “parents sort of freak out,” not wanting “anyone touching their child who doesn’t absolutely have to touch their child.” Parents are worried that such tests may inflict eating disorders, such as Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia. However, a simple experiment consisting of students who received, and students who did not receive the body composition test soon put those fears to rest. According to the experiment “the results support the premise that skinfold calipers can be used in an educational context to facilitate cognitive learning without causing adverse affective consequences.” In a nut shell, they don’t cause bad body images. Tests such as these should “be seen as a possible medical issue” and a way in which to teach children about health and the importance of body maintenance.
  • My Response:
  • I agree with author, yet also disagree:
  • I believe that body composition tests should be administered and their results explained to both children and adults. These tests maintain effective and accurate information, and is helpful in order to understand whether one’s body is within a healthy range.
  • However, I also believe that body image should receive a stronger focus in schools, as well. PE teachers should incorporate the importance of a healthy body imageinto the curriculum. They should constantly stress the importance of a healthy body.
  • With a constant and informative education and the enforcement of what this includes, a healthy body should be “natural/normal.”Daily exercise and healthy diets should become a habit and should become part of a regular routine instead of a constant worry.
  • At the same time, I believe that what goes on in the home is even more important than tests and education outside of one’s living environment. Parents should be an example of healthy eating habits, physical activity, and a proactive lifestyle. The education of health should not be left for doctors, schools and recreational organizations to address. The foundation and habits that will stick, begins in the home.
  • If we leave the responsibility of educating and enforcing these lifestyles solely to schools and doctors, then we cannot expect to have a solid result. There needs to be a constant balance between what is learnt at school or outside of the house, and what is reinforced at home.
  • Also, I do believe that ALL eating disorders should be addressed, whether anorexia nervosa, bulimia, or over-eating/bingeing. All types of eating disorders are often fatal, and are oftentimes psychological as well; therefore, specialized treatment is often needed, and helps stop the plaguing disorder.
  • In the cases of these disorders, school education and enforcement at home are usually not enough. Specialized treatment is almost always necessary and can help his/her self-esteem and view of his/herself and in the extreme cases, save a person from ending his/her own life due to a psychological way of thinking
  • Summary of topic: by 2050, obesity will become the norm.
  • In this scenario, Critser creates a world in which people are distinguished between the very obese, and the not-so-much obese. He bases this world on the assumed state of the U.S. in 2050.
  • Critser walks the reader through a day of a 35 year old husband and father, whereupon we receive the one-on-one concerning the many challenges which must be faced by this obese family.
  • Diabetic, tired, pimply, and seemingly addicted to food, the man lacks self control, and motivation. These downfalls spill into his diet, health, and lifestyle: he can barely step out of the car without grunting with effort, and he and his wife are plagued with sleep insomnia among other terrible effects.
  • My Response:
  • I disagree with the author’s scenario, which he presents to the reader. Yes, while obesity rates are higher than they have ever been before, I doubt a “typical” person in the future will be obese. In our day and age, there are so many focuses being placed on health, the education of health, and the assessment of bad health, that I must assume the obesity rates must slowly, but surely, decline.
  • We now know that obesity induces diabetes, among many, many other problems; therefore those who are overweight and obese are constantly reminded and encouraged to maintain a healthier lifestyle: a task which is difficult, yet rewarding.(Aunt example)
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