In The Fattening of America, renowned health economist Eric Finkelstein, along with business writer Laurie Zuckerman, reveal how the U.S. economy has become the driving force behind our expanding waistlines. Blending theory, research, and engaging personal anecdotes the authors discuss how declining food costs—especially for high-calorie, low-nutrient foods—and an increasing usage of technology, which make Americans more sedentary, has essentially led us to eat more calories than we burn off.
Everyone knows Americans are growing fatter, but health economist Finkelstein crunches the economic figures behind the nation's obesity epidemic and the results aren't pretty. Along with health-care writer Zuckerman, researcher Finkelstein delves into how modern technology reduces the cost of producing higher-calorie processed goods, decreases our activity level and puts our health in danger. Finkelstein debunks myths about the long-range cost of food production and consumption and scrutinizes the impact of genetics and U.S. fiscal policy on the nation's waistline, frequently using economics metrics in his analysis. Generous with summaries of major points, Finkelstein simplifies current stats to explain how the country's thunderous weight gain is straining Medicare and Medicaid and hurting our military readiness. The only positive effect he sees from the obesity epidemic is the creation of the "ObesEconomy"-a market sustained by gyms, diet drugs and other products and services designed to curb weight gain. Horrified by studies that reveal that obese children have a quality of life similar to children with cancer, the investigatory economist even throws in some health tips on dropping pounds. Despite a frequent reliance on economic tools and indicators, this combination study/motivational guide makes for a pleasant educational read, comparable to a vegetable puree snuck into a dessert. (Jan.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information