So, over the last few days I’ve been reading Why Diets Make Us Fat by Sandra Aamodt – in bits and pieces as it’s not really a ‘read straight through’ book, although there’s plenty to think about. The blurb says:
In the UK, almost two-thirds of adults are overweight. We think we know the answer: cut calories; eat less. We conclude that being fat is a failure of willpower, perhaps supplemented by a quirk of genetics. Yet research shows that losing weight by willpower alone is almost guaranteed to fail in the long run. In fact, there is no evidence that dieting improves long-term health, and some that suggests yo-yo dieting is more dangerous than being overweight.
Combining deep research and brutal candour about her own experience as a yo-yo dieter, neuroscientist Sandra Aamodt explains the science of the obesity epidemic, including new findings about gut bacteria, why bariatric surgery works (it has more to do with your brain than your stomach), and what a real alternative to dieting and weight cycling might look like.
The book was an expanded version of her TED talk (see below), and is based upon years of experience as both a yo-yo-dieter, and a scientist. Some bits of the book had me skipping over some of the more ‘science’ bits, but there was loads of stuff about developing healthier habits (not tied to weight loss), the limited amount of willpower (or emotional energy) that we all have – and why are we using it all to keep thinner than a weight below that which our body wants to be at rather than to change the world, the huge impact that the dieting and food processing industries have had on the way we eat/food availability and how our bodies retain that food, and lots of other thought provoking stuff – certainly plenty to ‘chew on’!
Dr Bex Lewis is passionate about helping people engage with the digital world in a positive way, where she has more than 20 years’ experience. She is Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University and Visiting Research Fellow at St John’s College, Durham University, with a particular interest in digital culture, persuasion and attitudinal change, especially how this affects the third sector, including faith organisations, and, after her breast cancer diagnosis in 2017, has started to research social media and cancer. Trained as a mass communications historian, she has written the original history of the poster Keep Calm and Carry On: The Truth Behind the Poster (Imperial War Museum, 2017), drawing upon her PhD research. She is Director of social media consultancy Digital Fingerprint, and author of Raising Children in a Digital Age: Enjoying the Best, Avoiding the Worst (Lion Hudson, 2014) as well as a number of book chapters, and regularly judges digital awards. She has a strong media presence, with her expertise featured in a wide range of publications and programmes, including national, international and specialist TV, radio and press, and can be found all over social media, typically as @drbexl.