You know what they say about assumptions, go on and…
More and more research is being done into the causes and drivers of obesity. I have believed for a long time that obesity is not as simple as the old energy in, energy out solution that most people seem to be willing to offer up to anyone who is overweight. I heard of Dr Robyn Toomath’s book Fat Science not long after it had come out. It is a really good and interesting read and if you are or have ever struggled with your weight you will find it particularly insightful.
Dr Toomath has worked within the New Zealand health system for many years and when her book was published she was working at Auckland City Hospital as clinical director of general medicine. Over the course of her career she has observed many interesting things in the patients she was working with and with everything she learnt from that she advocated to the government for a change in how public health measures (in relation to obesity) were delivered so that they were better targeted and were actually the things we need that would make a valuable impact.
When I read this paragraph in the introduction of Fat Science I knew I was reading the right book, “This book is for the people (and their spouses, their children, their parents and their doctors too) who try to lose weight but fail. It’s for the overweight people who think it’s all their fault. If we really want to tackle the problems that come with obesity, we first need to understand why most of us can’t change our body size.” If you read my blog regularly I’m going to make a giant assumption that you fall into one of these groups.
The first section covers all manner of diets and reasons why they are flat-out dangerous and just don’t work long-term. I love the point that is made about extreme diets, the more extreme it is the less likely anyone is to stick to it. Dr Toomath also covers whether exercise is an effective way to lose weight and the research she cites is very interesting. My thoughts on how effective exercise is for weight loss have changed so much since my gastric bypass and Dr Toomath is right on the money.
The book is broken up into three parts and has different sections within each part. Dr Toomath covers dieting, exercise, using drugs and surgery to make ourselves smaller, heritability of obesity, how the environment we live in contributes to us being fat, the stigma around being obese and what governments could do to actually make real change for people who are or could be obese.
One of things I found most interesting was when Dr Toomath talked about the history of bariatric surgery. In the early years of these types of surgeries there were many fatalities associated but obviously the risk of death, while still a very real risk, is much much lower than it was when these types of operations first started being performed. She discusses research about long-term efficacy of different surgeries and compares the observed outcomes from various pieces of research that have been carried out.
This book is a must read if you or anyone you know has struggled with their weight. It gives insight to the medical and biological side of obesity and why it’s such a struggle to manage at an individual level but also why the problem is growing for much of the world’s population. You can purchase a physical copy of Fat Science here from Mighty Ape or if you want a digital copy you can purchase it here from Amazon.
I purposefully haven’t gone into too much detail of the books contents because I really don’t think I’d do it justice by paraphrasing it. Do you prefer to read actual physical books or do you prefer digital copies like me? Let me know if you end up reading this book from seeing me talk about it here, I’d love to know what points Dr Toomath makes in the book resonate with you most. Come back here after you’ve read it and let me know what you think!