Monday, October 12, 2015

Book Review: Fat Chance by Nick Spalding

I read Nick Spalding's Fat Chance (not an affiliate link) because it was recommended on The Nutrition Diva's podcast.  I have mixed feelings about it -- as opposed to Robert Lustig's Fat Chance, which I think is brilliant and helpful. On the one hand, I agreed with Monica Reinagel that on the surface, it was a fun, fluffy read. On the other hand, though, it perpetuates some of the worst and most unhelpful stereotypes about people with weight problems, and I think that someone who studies nutrition should know better than to promote a book like this. I listened to it on Audible.com. Audible does not sponsor my blog, even though I really think they should. In general, I don't review books that I don't love, but I think this one is worth a little bit of a second look because of the issues it raises. 
What stereotypes does this book perpetuate? When we first meet our heroine Zoe, she is hilariously stuck in a dress in a too-small dressing room. Besides being tiresomely drawn out, this incident provides the last-straw moment that launches her into her weight-loss effort, in this case, a Biggest-Loser-style radio competition in which she enlists the help of her lovable-but-also-overweight husband, Greg, who we learned has broken a chair in an equally longwinded story and laugh-to-keep-from-crying story at a barbecue. The book is written as a series of diary entries supposedly meant to provide content for the radio show's website. 

Greg and Zoe were both hotties when they met, but they have "let themselves go" by doing things like eating entire trifles and other oversized British snacks. Their problems are all caused only by their weight, and as they lose weight, their problems vanish along with the extra pounds. Poof!

The weight loss, once they stop trying fad diets and rubbishy fitness items they find on late-night-TV, is steady and seemingly uninterrupted by plateaus or injuries. It had just never occurred to these two that they could be thinner if they just ate less and exercised more! Wow, what a discovery! They just never heard that before, apparently.  Once they lose weight they have all kinds of confidence and a fabulous sex life. There is no thought that weight regain is a possibility, because they have learned the magic eat-less-exercise-more formula. 

It was a nice, escapist fantasy while it lasted. I'm guessing the author has not experienced the reality of weight loss, because this version does not seem to even remotely reflect the experiences of most people I know with serious weight to lose.

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"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07