Book review: The Hungry Gene

The Hungry Gene: The Science of Fat and the Future of Thin is another good history of eating, or rather obsessing about weight. It’s not as detailed as Good Calories, Bad Calories but she made some good points. Here are the two messages I took away. (I’m sure there were more in the book.)

  1. Our genes influence how fat we get – not just how we process food but also what types of food we like and how much of them we eat. She gave an example of an island in the Pacific where the inhabitants were decimated by famine. The survivors were genetically inclined to use all calories "effectively" – they eat lots of fatty foods, enjoy being sedentary, and put on lots of fat – food storage. Today with plenty of convenient fatty foods they are very fat. Her point seemed to be that it’s only a matter of time before we are all fat in today’s society. If you are skinny now it’s because you are lucky to have good genes or you have time and money to work at being skinny.
  2. Until we treat "Big Food" like Big Tobacco, the situation will continue to get worse. Food companies exist to make money and they make money when we eat lots. They will continue to lobby for laws and situations that enable them to sell us lots of food.

The Hungry Gene was an easy to read, absorbing book. I found myself reading it long after I should have been in bed!