Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Great Fat Fraud - Mike Schatzki

Summary: Are you tired of buying diet book after diet book? Have you tried every exercise class at your gym? Are you ready to toss the whole concept of diet and exercise out the window? It’s time to try something different.

If you’re ready for a real change, and ready to take back control of your body, let The Great Fat Fraud provide you with the road map.
Summary and cover photo from www.greatfatfraud.com This book was provided free for review.

My Review: Mike Schatzki attempts to alter the view of modern society that being overweight (or fat) is equivalent to being unhealthy. By applying multiple peer-reviewed studies the author details how fitness is a more correct indicator of health than weight. The main study focused on in this book is one that details, with the use of graphs, that being fit greatly reduce death rate regardless of weight. The author defines fit as walking 10,000 steps a day and provides research on how this number was determined.

I appreciate the effort made in debunking the myth that health can be measure in terms of weight or BMI. By providing a simple solution for a life of fitness by walking 10,000 steps a day, the author simplifies fitness and makes it obtainable for everyone. The book stresses that one should move at his or her own pace with no timeline for reaching the goal steps. We tend to overly complicate fitness, so I think that offering a simplistic solution is valuable. One of the reasons people don’t commit to a fitness routine is because the manner in which it is marketed makes it feel too time consuming and difficult. My favorite part of the book comes when the author offers a solution for the argument that there is not enough time to walk 10,000 steps. He does not tell readers to make it a priority but rather a necessity in which other things should be scheduled around. What a great solution and one we could all benefit from.

There are several other things I appreciated about this book. The endnotes are very detailed and provide not only the article in which you can look up the research for yourself but the area the information can be found in each research paper. The book is short and easy to read. All medical jargon is adequately explained in layman’s terms. The additional website provides deeper insight into thoughts presented within the book.

My biggest beef with this book is the fact that it neglects to take into account diet in any form. While I agree that fitness levels play a vital role in health, I feel that research has shown that what one puts into his or her body is equally important. The author emphasizes that our bodies were designed to exercise by hunting and gathering but neglects to mention that they weren’t designed to digest all that fast-food or processed food that we put into them. There is also no mention of additional benefits from developing muscle by adding to a walking fitness routine. Our bodies were designed to work and be more muscular than most are now. Muscle burns more calories and small amounts of muscle mass can be added without working out hours each day.

Another point that the book does not detail is the amount of morbidly obese people who are actually fit. I would venture a guess that there are quite a few people who would be classified as obese, BMI above 25, that are physically fit but how many people with a BMI above 30, classified as morbidly obese, are fit? If these people walked the recommended 10,000 steps each and every day they are likely to see a drop in their weight. If the author truly wants to make the point that weight does not correlate with health then some actual numbers in this area would be quite beneficial.

Overall this book is a great starting point but is by no means the end-all be-all to healthy living. The suggestion to walk 10,000 steps each day is a simple step people may take to becoming more healthy. Yet how we fuel our bodies should also be included. A short chapter on one to three simple eating changes would add a great deal of value to the book.
My Rating: 3 Stars
To sum it up: A valid attempt to stress the importance of fitness over weight, yet lacking some important key points.


Sweet Em said...

I listened to a great "Freakonomics" podcast in Novemeber 2010 that talked about how much of an economic driver the weight loss industry is, and that they are marketing to us the need to join a gym, lower our cholesterol (with drugs), join a weight loss program, because it makes "them" money. It sounds like it was along these lines.

Heather said...

The last couple chapters did divulge this exact point. It does seem a very valid argument. The weight loss industry spends an immense amount of time and money trying to convince people of the importance of thinness yet rarely communicates the value of fitness. It's definitely a marketing scam, yet can we really go as far to say that weight does not matter when it comes to health?


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