America’s never-ending quest for slimness bombards us from every television screen, drugstore aisle, and shopping mall. In this fast-paced and fascinating expose, veteran journalist Laura Fraser goes undercover to look at this country’s obsession with being thin. Her meticulously researched journey through Dietland shows how the biggest hucksters since P.T. Barnum create and exploit our worries about weight.
A reformed dieter and an ex-bulimic, Fraser traces our fixation with thinness to the images that began appearing a hundred years ago in magazines like Ladies’ Home Journal and Cosmopolitan. She chronicles the corresponding growth of an industry that today includes inspirational gurus, dangerous diet products, commercial weight-loss centers, risky medications and unscrupulous medical researchers — all dedicated to providing false hopes in exchange for huge profits.
Fraser’s reporting takes her inside doctors’ offices, marketing seminars, weight-loss spas, and medical conferences. Posing as a patient, she investigates diet doctors and weight-loss scams, undergoing injections, hypnosis, and cookie diets along the way. She interviews weight-loss celebrities such as Richard Simmons, Susan Powter, and Dean Ornish, along with the top obesity researchers in the country. The results are eye-opening, dramatic — and entertaining. She convincingly demonstrates that far from helping most people lose weight, the vast majority of these Dietland profiteers contribute to our weight obsession — and our obesity.
“A sound and informative tour through the darkest recess of what [Fraser] calls Dietland.”
— Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post
“Fraser’s spirited, methodical damning of an entire industry that’s founded on—let’s face it—making many people feel lousy, exhilarates, even if you haven’t dieted in years.”
— Laura Miller, Salon
“An engaging, important book.”
“The sheer breadth of Fraser’s research renders her final arguments convincing. Like broccoli and bananas, they have a certain natural integrity.”
— Entertainment Weekly
“What’s more delicious than a London broil? Losing It, which roasts all those insufferable diet docs and fat-free-industry scam artists in their own juices. This is an expose in the old-fashioned sense; Fraser scores her points not by preaching but with impressive reportage.”
— Susan Faludi, author of Backlash
“A highly personal and spirited expose of the diet culture by a journalist who has had ample experience with the pressures to be slender.”
— Kirkus Reviews