The Hungry Gene by Ellen Ruppel Shell
The Science of Fat and the Future of Thin

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Americans spend $33 billion annually on diet and exercise programs, yet we are fatter than ever -- and it's killing us. According to a recent Surgeon General's report, more than 60 percent of Americans are overweight, including a growing number of children, all of whom face such increased, potentially life-threatening health risks as hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease. The Hungry Gene takes an unflinching look at the spreading obesity pandemic, guiding readers through the ongoing quest to unravel the genetic and behavioral basis of one of the most vexing scientific mysteries of our time. Acclaimed science journalist Ellen Ruppel Shell goes to the front lines of the struggle against fat -- from the quiet facility in Maine where the first superobese mice were bred more than thirty years ago, to Rockefeller University in New York where scientists worked around the clock to isolate the gene that causes obesity. Along the way Shell looks at how medicine is dealing with the fat crisis with radical and controversial surgical techniques, what the incidence of mordant obesity among native islanders in Micronesia tells us about its evolutionary roots, and how drug companies are racing to create a pill to cure this "Trillion Dollar Disease." She also takes aim at the increasingly obesity-enabling culture that lies behind the crisis -- from the expanding suburban sprawl that has fostered America's car-centered sedentary lifestyle to the fast-food marketers who prey on the jammed schedules of today's two-income families. Weaving science, history, and personal stories, the narrative builds to a powerful conclusion that reveals how we can beat the obesity pandemic before it beats us. Gripping and provocative, The Hungry Gene is the unsettling saga of how the world got fat -- and what we can do about it. "An indefatigable reporter with a novelist's sense of character and drama ..." -- John Horgan, author of The End of Science

About Ellen Ruppel Shell

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ELLEN RUPPEL SHELL is a correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly and writes for Discover, The New York Times Magazine, Smithsonian, and other publications. She is associate professor and codirector of the Program in Science Journalism at Boston University.
Published September 15, 2003 by Grove Press. 304 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, Nature & Wildlife, Science & Math. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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A revealing look at research into the causes of obesity, the drastic measures being taken by some to combat fat, and the tactics of those who profit from it.

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The Guardian

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The Hungry Gene: The Science of Fat and the Future of Thin by Ellen Ruppel Shell 309pp, Atlantic, £17.99 It is hard to imagine anyone more sympathetic towards overweight people than Ellen Ruppel Shell, but even she concedes that the wistful allusions of pro-fatness campaigners to various better, ...

Feb 15 2003 | Read Full Review of The Hungry Gene: The Science ...

Publishers Weekly

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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.

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Star Tribune

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Review: In this deftly written, provocative report, an Atlantic Monthly correspondent examines the history, politics, science and culture of obesity -- and excoriates the American food industry.

Jan 11 2003 | Read Full Review of The Hungry Gene: The Science ...

London Review of Books

Another eminent obesity specialist, George Bray, fumes that only 2 per cent of the 36 million Americans with a BMI of more than 30 take obesity drugs – ‘a disappointing failure at the marketing end’.

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