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Obsessed: America's Food Addiction - And My Own (2013)

Obsessed: America's Food Addiction - And My Own (2013)
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Rating
3.22 of 5 Votes: 5
ISBN
1602861765 (ISBN13: 9781602861763)
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English
publisher
weinstein books
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Obsessed: America's Food Addiction - ...
Obsessed: America's Food Addiction - And My Own (2013)

About book: A size two, tall, gorgeous blonde woman tells a 250 pound woman, “You have a problem.” How would YOU react? … Wait. What if I told you they were out on the water in a motor boat together?What if that skinny woman went on to say, “You’re not just overweight—you’re fat. You’re OBESE.”What if I told you they were friends?Well, if I had been the fat woman, and a little size two woman said that to me … I would toss her over the side of the freaking boat and speed away!Can a privileged, skinny TV host write a book about obesity in America? Okay, yes, but should she?Mika Brzezinski, co-host of a popular MSNBC morning show and bestselling author, has lived with an eating disorder that has plagued her mentally and physically, but she’s looks great in a sleeveless size two dress. … So that makes it okay, right? No.Diane Smith, Emmy-Award-Winning Producer and Journalist, has struggled with food and weight her entire life as well, but her struggle was evident on the outside weighing in at 250 pounds. … So that makes her a failure, right? No.OBSESSED: AMERICA’S FOOD ADDICTION—AND MY OWN shares both Mika’s and Diane’s personal struggles to overcome their food obsessions and maintain a healthier lifestyle. The juxtaposed stories of an obese person and a skinny person really played to the point of food obsession well. To know that many of Mika’s stories were MY OWN stories, and her feelings were my feelings, really surprised me. Fat people often think skinny people have no idea how they struggle against food every day. Truth is: many skinny people struggle more with food obsession than their overweight counterparts.The bottom line is: I couldn’t put the book down. From the opening page where Mika writes, “How does a person who is not overweight write about her lifelong obsession with overeating without sounding like a narcissistic, woe-is-me skinny girl with an overinflated image … you can’t. No matter what you say or how you say it, you’re going to sound like a privileged skinny bitch with food issues. Oh yeah, and a TV show. And a woman who was born into a wonderful, prominent family and has a blessed life.” … to the final pages where Mika writes, “I thought all this research and writing would help Diane get her life back on track. But she made me realize that I had lot more work to do on myself … I am more self-aware and less self-righteous when the topic turns to eating.” … I was enthralled by the story, by the facts, and by the testimonials. I dog-eared more pages than I should have, but there were so many things that I wanted to share, address, and debate in not only my review but also in my conversations with other people about the topic, I just couldn’t stop myself from marking the passages in the book that moved me.The most important pages, that brought me to tears, were the ones about what you should and should not say to your daughters about food related issues. I love my children, and I have struggled to teach them better eating and exercising habits than I’ve practiced myself. I never wanted them to grow up with the same weight and body image issues I’ve had. But as I read Mika’s passages where she expressed her concerns about passing her food obsessions on to her daughter, I shook my head and thought, “Mika, you’re fooling yourself if you don’t realize they are watching your behavior more than listening to your advice.” Then Mika went on to write, “Carlie and I … both weighed ourselves. … [and Carlie said to me] ‘You have an eating disorder, so that’s why you weigh less than me.’” (page 230). I started to cry! I chastised myself for judging Mika unfairly. Truth of the matter is, all of our children are smarter and more intuitive than we give them credit for. My children know the truth about my eating habits. So do yours.I can honestly say I’m not a fan or a follower or a viewer of Mika Brzezinski. I’d never read anything written by her or watched a television program she hosted. It doesn’t matter if she’s a liberal, and I’m not. It doesn’t matter that she’s a size two, or four, or six, and I’m not.The fact is: She’s written a great book here, and if it’s read and discussed by people it can serve as a useful tool in our society. This would be an excellent choice for a discussion at book club, mothers’ groups, parenting classes, nutrition classes, weight-loss programs, school health classes, and more.Here are the reasons I gave the book four stars instead of five:1.tIt seemed to me that Diane Smith had contributed enough content to the book to be given credit as a coauthor rather than just a collaborator.2.tIt would have been more dramatic and eye catching to see beginning versions of Mika and Diane on the front cover and final versions on the back cover. … There is a “final version” picture on the back cover, but only skinny Mika on the front.3.tThere was a concluding chapter by Mika, but no concluding thoughts from Diane. This was my main disappointment with the book. I wanted to know how Diane felt at the end of the journey.4.tSince this was a book about body image and appearance, I would have enjoyed a photo section in the center of the book featuring the people interviewed. Regardless of the above list, I highly recommend this book to all women.

I'm not sure what to make of this book. It does raise some very important issues especially with regard to our national obesity epidemic. Mika documents very serious issues, for example, the cost of obesity is about $190 billion a year or 21 percent of all medical spending. Our life spans are now shorter and the current generation will not live as long as preceding generations with one in three kids now being obese or overweight. One in four of seventeen to twenty seven year olds are "too fat to fight." Additionally, students in our schools consume 400 billion junk food calories every year. That is the equivalent of almost 2 billion candy bars. We eat poorly and we eat too much. Documenting the extent of the problem is a real strength of the book.The book also attempts to explain how we got to this sad state of affairs noting that the fast food industry spends $4 billion in advertising each year. Supermarkets are also singled out for placing empty calories in candy bars, sweets and sugary cereals where children will see them. This is summed up as follows "the problem is a flood of highly processed, hyper palatable, energy-dense, nutrient diluted, glow-in-the-dark, bet-you-can't-eat-just-one kind of foods." All of this is, of course, true, but hardly news.There is a key point in the book about halfway through on p. 102 where the possibility that food companies are manipulating consumers is oh so cautiously posited. Mika quotes Zeke Emanuel, a food 'ethicist,' "as an ethicist I'm very careful about the words I use and I try to be careful about manipulation; it tends to be one of the squishier words. But I would say they adjust, modify, test and reforms late the products to increase their palatability." At that point, I thought, yeah, Mika is a wus and heaven forbid that she offend a sponsor. Yup, Mika copped out at that point. She eases around the subject of high fructose corn syrup a few pages later.In fairness, Mika in her very guarded way does draw attention to some very serious issues. I just wish she had had the courage to go a bit further and the audacity to be a little less politically correct. The book is very well written and can easily be finished in two to three hours.Don't look for any stunning revelations other than the fact that Mika once binged on Tacos and during an Ambien generated sleep walking episode ate Nutella out of a jar. And, yes I am opinionated but Mika is no Rachel Maddow.
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Reviews
Suzanne
I have to admit, I didn't want to read this book. My mom gave me this book as I'm struggling with my weight and food addiction, and it was done out of love. But I am not of fan of Mika, nor the show she's on - I think Joe Scarborough is an ass, and I greatly dislike the kind of "journalism" they put forth on this show. But I can't say no to my dear mom, so I read it, but couldn't really put aside my feelings. I'd give this only one star if I read it of my own volition, but gave it a second star because of my preconceived bias.The first thing Mika says is "why would you listen to me when I'm a skinny bitch?" - and it really rings true with me, and in the end, it's a big part of why I didn't like this book. She doesn't have a true food addiction, in my mind, because she has successfully kept it at bay practically all her life. She also enjoys exercise way too much for an addict. I'd say she has an unhealthy relationship with food, which is one rung lower than addiction. (Kind of like a "problem drinker" vs. alcoholic.) Also, taking an Ambien once and devouring a tub of cake icing doesn't give weight to your addict assertions. She's got very basic things to say, and nothing that really resonates as profound or new to the conversation. So lucky Mika got a book deal and got to speak to her passion - great. But there are really no true answers here; she's just saying what we're all saying - let's fix the food system. I'd rather hear it from a government official or an industry insider than a TV personality. I also hated her insistence on bringing the word "fat" back - as if this one word could hold some kind of power to fix all these problems we have in our society. How inane.She portrays dieting and losing weight as a very basic activity, and bows to the power of the BMI scale, which is an overly simplistic and bogus tool to assess one's health. She doesn't factor in other health issues that could make weight loss more difficult. What really grated on me was hearing from all her celebrity acquaintances on how they lost the weight. Really? If I made their money, I'd be a helluva lot skinnier too. Try profiling a middle-aged single mother with two jobs and let's see how easy it is for her to drop the weight. In the end, this book would have fared a lot better if we heard from her friend Diane more. Diane's journey was infinitely more interesting to me and was probably more relatable to people reading this book. But her story was summed up in about 30 pages, max, and it was quite a superficial look at her weight loss journey.
Spook Harrison
Thus far, I'm persevering with this book as a part of my quest to read the good, the bad and the fad. (This is most definitely fad.) I've read some very Gary Taubes-like terminology, but the formatting, that one will read a line only to have that line re-printed in bold a few lines later, is annoying. I understand that what you have to say is important, but if it wasn't important, you wouldn't have written it at all, and the redundancy is vexing. Furthermore entire chapters should not be in italics. No, Weinstein Books, no. While it's a good overview of the information out there, most of the experts Brzezinski talks to are high in media exposure, low in (peer-reviewed and/or academic) credentials. I disagree with Gearhardt's research (p. 93) in that I know a gambling addict gets a lower response when they gamble than a 'normal' person, so her musings on the nature of addiction don't hold across the board. The nutritional experts she consulted (p. 123, 125) actually brought out the set-point theory, which is malarkey, and unless she's running half-marathons or longer regularly, 1,200-1,600 calories a day may be optimal (Fat Land, The China Study, tons of other books and articles...). Also, why would a well-educated nutritionist be spouting the popular More Protein line, when that's not backed by solid research (just marketing)? Why did neither 'nutritionist' recommend coconut oil; a saturated fat but a MCFA with dozens of other health benefits? Am I used to people in the media having access to better resources than this author used? What makes it worthwhile is Brzezinski's story, as well as Diane's, and once one reads about the confrontation with her friend in the introduction, the hubris that compelled her to write that her life story would be similar if she were 115 or 215 pounds is forgiven. I also really liked the concrete ideas about child rearing and education to change the status quo, and the examples from current political leaders about how to lead by example and make public their struggles to benefit others. Chapter 10 was good, though Katz's observations on the malleability of taste buds would have segued nicely into the fact that most people don't eat to satisfy physical hunger, they eat for emotional hunger, which is a part of the problem the author almost totally ignored. Overall, I don't think I'm their target audience, and if the book does indeed get people talking and thinking, that's great! Good for the library shelf, but not my bookshelf.
Angela
Really, Mika? Not sure your book adds anything new to the conversation about weight loss. There's no box-cutter answer to get some one to lose weight. You called your bff "fat," but is that the real reason she the weight? After reading the book, I think she lost the weight because she knew her health was at stake. There's no cookie cutter plan for losing weight. It starts with "wanting" to lose the weight and can take a myriad number of paths from there. After all, there are an infinite number of reasons why the weight was put on in the first place. to try and simplify it in a 185 page book doesn't do anybody any justice, and makes for a boring conversation.
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