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For today's diary, I thought I'd list a few books that I have found useful in explaining how we got here and/or what we can do about it.

WHEE (Weight, Health, Eating and Exercise) is a community support diary for Kossacks who are currently or planning to start losing, gaining or maintaining their weight through diet and exercise or fitness. Any supportive comments, suggestions or positive distractions are appreciated. If you are working on your weight or fitness, please -- join us! You can also click the WHEE tag to view all diary posts.

Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World
by Greg Critser

Published in 2003, Critser's book introduces us to the cast of characters that, he says, made America fat. The first words of Chapter 1 are "Earl Butz, nominated by Richard Nixon in 1971 to be the eighteenth secretary of agriculture..." Chapter 1 goes on to talk about how our food got loaded with HFCS and palm oil. Chapter 2 follows with a discussion of David Wallerstein, the inventor of Supersizing. The remaining five chapters (it's a short book) discuss such subjects as the differences between the U.S. and France in child-raising, the decline of physical activity, and some of the medical implications of overweight and obesity. Fat Land is not a tour de force, but the stories of Butz and Wallerstein make it a must-have reference book for the WHEE reader.

The End of Overeating
by David Kessler, M.D.

An instant classic, and current subject of the twice-weekly "Let's Read a WHEE Book Together" diary series written by Clio2 and yours truly. Kessler was a liveblogging guest for a Fitness Monday installment a few weeks ago. The End of Overeating is a pipe-hitting exposé of how food manufacturers layer sugar, fat, and salt to drive us to eat more and more of their foods. I disagree with Kessler's idea that this is something new in the world of food (Jared Diamond has written about how Western Europe had to deal with the 17th-century version of this), but there's no arguing with the thoroughness of Kessler's research, or with the popularity of this book. This is going to be on WHEE bookshelves for a long time.

Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think
by Brian Wansink, Ph.D.

Where Kessler's book talks about a wide range of research performed by others, Wansink uses his own research to support his point: That we Americans are eating more because we're being served more. Wansink won an IgNobel Prize for the invention of the "bottomless soup bowl," and Mindless Eating details this and many other amusing experiments. Although Wansink's goal is to get us to mindlessly eat more sensibly, I was inspired by Wansink's book to begin my current weight loss journey back in early 2008. By mindfully limiting the portions I ate (but not weighing, measuring, or counting calories) and riding my bicycle to work, I lost over 20 pounds (from my peak weight of 229) by the middle of July.

What are your favorite WHEE books?

Upcoming WHEE diaries:

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Originally posted to Edward Spurlock on Wed Sep 16, 2009 at 06:36 AM PDT.

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