From Publishers Weekly
More than 1.1 billion people worldwide are overweight or obese. How and why did the world get so fat? Shell, a journalist and codirector of the Program in Science Journalism at Boston University, explores the issue from many angles including the roles of genetics, pharmaceutical companies, the food industry and social class. She charts the growth in scientific research on obesity and obesity treatments in the last decade (from stomach stapling to the notoriously dangerous drug Fen-Phen), explaining the biology of metabolism that makes it so difficult to circumvent the body's appetite. Shell also explores the lifestyle culprits behind obesity, traveling to Micronesia to document the residents of the island of Kosrae, whose average life span has plummeted in recent years due to the introduction of high-fat Western food. Though she lucidly explains the physiology of fat, Shell fills the book with chatty profiles of patients and doctors ("Rudy Leibel is a small man and trim... He has a degree in English literature, and a weakness for poetry") and her prose reads like that of a glossy magazine. There is also much in the book that may be familiar to readers; the spotlights on new obesity treatments are compelling, but it will come as no surprise that too much high-fat, calorie-dense food and too little exercise trigger obesity. On the other hand, given that Big-Tobacco-style class-action lawsuits against fast food companies are under consideration, some may find Shell's arguments for the regulation of junk-food TV advertising, among other measures, timely and provocative.
From Library Journal
This is not quick-fix diet book. It's a science journalist's study of why we are fatter than ever (60 percent of Americans should be skipping dessert today) and what is being done about it.
From The Guardian
Fascinating.....Shell has a droll manner and narrative gift that transforms the most unpromising chapters of obesity R&D into observant little dramas, in which the very fat cells are individuals and laboratory mice get cameo roles. Read more.
Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation
In the Hungry Gene, one of our finest science writers tackles our most urgent health issue.
Gregory Mott, The Washington Post
The Financial Times (UK)
Compelling…Journalist Ellen Ruppel Shell takes us into the wide world of obesity, seeking answers to how we got here and how we can get back again.
Daniel Akst, The Wilson Quarterly
The Hungry Gene takes on the fascinating worldwide inquiry into the biological and social roots of the obesity epidemic. Shell is a gifted writer and observer with a fine mastery of her subject, and her book is chock full of wonderful characterizations, rich ironies and horrifying facts.
Brad Everson, National Post (Canada)
It is remarkable that a book as excellent as The Hungry Gene can be contained in such a slender volume.
Robyn Williams, Sydney Morning Herald
A tour de force of high-minded science journalism and vivid, gut-churning story telling.
This is a steel magnolia of a book.A political fist clenched in a scientific glove. Charmingly written with plenty of human interest and colour, its underlying message is clear and radical.
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