The best books on obesity

8 authors have picked their favorite books about obesity and why they recommend each book.

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Fearing the Black Body

By Sabrina Strings,

Book cover of Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia

This book completely changed the way I thought about diet culture and anti-fat bias. It helped me to better understand the racial origins of fatphobia and how our modern diet culture began hundreds of years ago. It is a must-read to understand how racism and colonialism impact all of our thoughts and beliefs about bodies to this day.

Fearing the Black Body

By Sabrina Strings,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Fearing the Black Body as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner, 2020 Body and Embodiment Best Publication Award, given by the American Sociological Association
Honorable Mention, 2020 Sociology of Sex and Gender Distinguished Book Award, given by the American Sociological Association
How the female body has been racialized for over two hundred years
There is an obesity epidemic in this country and poor black women are particularly stigmatized as "diseased" and a burden on the public health care system. This is only the most recent incarnation of the fear of fat black women, which Sabrina Strings shows took root more than two hundred years ago.
Strings weaves together an eye-opening…


Who am I?

I went on my first diet in high school, a reaction to panic brought on by weight gain (which was a completely normal part of puberty). That first diet led to a decade of yo-yo dieting and food and body obession. It also led me to pursue a career in nutrition and fitness. Six years ago, I came across the book Intuitive Eating, which completely changed my life. Now, as a registered dietitian, nutrition therapist, and certified intuitive eating counselor, I'm passionate about helping people reclaim the space to eat and live, unapologetically. I'm the founder of Alissa Rumsey Nutrition and Wellness, a weight-inclusive nutrition practice that offers virtual counseling, group programs, and online trainings. 


I wrote...

Unapologetic Eating: Make Peace with Food and Transform Your Life

By Alissa Rumsey,

Book cover of Unapologetic Eating: Make Peace with Food and Transform Your Life

What is my book about?

Everything you think you “know” about food, appearance, body size, and more, is something you were taught at some point. Unapologetic Eating walks you through unpacking and questioning everything society has taught you so that you can let go of dieting, make peace with food, and find your way back to your body, your intuition, and yourself. Using food as the entry point, the book helps you explore more about yourself, your beliefs, your values, and what you truly want out of life. You will learn how to reconnect with your body and yourself using your relationship to food as the entry point—going from trying to “fix” or change yourself to unapologetic eating and finally to unapologetic living.

Dietland

By Sarai Walker,

Book cover of Dietland

This book is a knockout, one that pushed me to see through our dangerous diet culture (and got me all fired up). After years of being judged and mocked as a fat woman, Plum is fixated on weight-loss surgery as the way to live a better life. But when she catches a young woman following her, Plum discovers an entire underground community of women living lives out of bounds, and a guerrilla group terrorizing predatory men. The story is propulsive and exciting, and it’s all fueled by righteous anger. The women Plum meet are full of rage at our broken world but also infused with beautiful compassion. Both can be true; both are often true.  The book has stuck with me for years, and I often return to it as a template for writing a killer story that centers and celebrates angry women.

Dietland

By Sarai Walker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dietland as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Dietland will be adapted into AMC's 10-episode straight-to-series starring multiple-Emmy winner Julianna Margulies and Joy Nash.

Plum Kettle does her best not to be noticed, because when you're fat, to be noticed is to be judged. Or mocked. Or worse.

But when a mysterious woman starts following her, Plum finds herself involved with an underground community of women who live life on their own terms. At the same time, a dangerous guerrilla group called "Jennifer" begins to terrorize a world that mistreats women. As Plum grapples with her personal struggles, she becomes entangled in a sinister plot, the consequences of…


Who am I?

I’m fascinated by angry, feral, primal women. In my book, ten stories feature these women, the ones doing the things we’re not supposed to do, thinking and feeling and saying the things we’re not supposed to. I think we’re beyond powerful when we embrace our anger, nourish and cultivate it, channel it. So I write about these women in the hopes that I’ll get a bit of their strength. The books in this list have inspired me as a writer and thrilled me as a reader.


I wrote...

Dig Me Out

By Amy Lee Lillard,

Book cover of Dig Me Out

What is my book about?

Dig Me Out is ten deeply absorbing stories about the women who won’t smile: angry, aching women, and women returning to base instincts, primal fears, and mythic power. Across past, present, and future, around the midwest and the world, these women demand we witness as they work to break through, to defy, to become. It won’t be pretty, and it won’t be safe, but it will be real.

Spanning genres, continents, and eras, Dig Me Out takes on misogyny and homophobia, societal and climatological violence, and the specter of our technologized future — all with a punk rock literary twist.

Skinny

By Donna Cooner,

Book cover of Skinny

Cooner takes on body dysmorphia in a new and unusual way. Ever once weighed over three hundred pounds but even after gastric bypass surgery she continues to hear the voice in her head, Skinny. Skinny constantly tells Ever that she’s still fat, and therefore unworthy. Even with her continuing weight loss, Skinny tells Ever she’s worthless, unwanted, and disposable. It’s not until Ever confronts her self-doubt that she begins to truly heal mentally. I liked how Cooner gave Ever’s body dysmorphia a literal voice. I feel like many girls with eating disorders would relate to having such a toxic voice in their heads. 

Skinny

By Donna Cooner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Skinny as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This novel kickstarted a national conversation on weight, beauty, and transformation. In it, we meet Ever, a fifteen-year-old girl who weighs over 300 pounds and is haunted by a voice in her head she calls "Skinny." Skinny tells Ever she is ugly. Fat. Unlovable. And Ever believes her. When Ever makes the controversial choice to have gastric bypass surgery, she does start losing weight and gains the interest of boys...but Skinny is still there, louder than before. Ever will need to confront that voice before she can truly find, and accept, her own.

Who am I?

One of the reasons I wanted to write about and explore mental health was because I was always fascinated by how the mind works and how it can turn on you without provocation. How and why some people can power through dark times, while others struggle is a topic that, within the African American community, isn't frequently discussed.  Often the advice given to someone about how to get through depression or anxiety is to pray or just dig deep and power through. It is the idea that because our ancestors suffered so much, those of us living in "easier" times should have nothing to be sad about that seems to prevent us from asking for help or getting therapy. 


I wrote...

Silhouetted by the Blue

By Traci L. Jones,

Book cover of Silhouetted by the Blue

What is my book about?

With the lead in the school musical, Serena should have it all. If only her dad’s depression wasn’t keeping him in bed, unable to care for her little brother. Living with someone with mental illness can be a challenge if you are an adult, Silhouetted explores what happens when your caretakers suffer from depression so badly that they can no longer take care of themselves or their children.

I wrote Silhouetted by the Blue about depression because I wanted to explore how living with someone with mental illness can color the lives of everyone in the household.

Women Food and God

By Geneen Roth,

Book cover of Women Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything

So many women in recovery from addiction have also experienced disordered eating. The food behaviors might exist alongside your other addiction, be your primary concern, or emerge in recovery as a new attempt to cope with the feelings that are left behind. Geneen Roth is, in my opinion, the guru of emotional eating recovery. All of her many books are worth exploring, but I chose this one because of its deeply spiritual message. While she doesn’t use the word “mindfulness” explicitly, Roth encourages a mindful relationship with food and with your body: “Because when you evoke curiosity and openness with a lack of judgment, you align yourself with beauty and delight and love—for their own sake” (p. 106).

Women Food and God

By Geneen Roth,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Women Food and God as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Embraced by Oprah, the #1 New York Times bestselling guide that explains the connection between eating and emotion from Geneen Roth—noted authority on mindful eating.

No matter how sophisticated or wealthy or broke or enlightened you are, how you eat tells all.

After three decades of studying, teaching, and writing about our compulsions with food, bestselling author Geneen Roth adds a powerful new dimension to her work in Women Food and God. She begins with her most basic concept: the way you eat is inseparable from your core beliefs about being alive. Your relationship with food is an exact mirror…

Who am I?

I am a licensed marriage and family therapist and have been helping addicts thrive in recovery since 2009. My first book, The Mindfulness Workbook for Addiction, has sold over 70,000 copies and been published in several countries. Books can offer inspiration, comfort, support, and relief during recovery. In my writing, as in my work with clients, I hope to offer a path to greater fulfillment and joy after addiction.


I wrote...

The Gift of Recovery: 52 Mindful Ways to Live Joyfully Beyond Addiction

By Rebecca E. Williams, Julie S. Kraft,

Book cover of The Gift of Recovery: 52 Mindful Ways to Live Joyfully Beyond Addiction

What is my book about?

If you're recovering from addiction, The Gift of Recovery offers quick, in-the-moment tips and tricks to help you cope with daily stress and stay firmly on the path to wellness. With this gentle, easy-to-use guide, you’ll learn how to navigate relationships, take time for self-care, and build a mindful, sustainable, and joyful recovery.

Deciding to get help for addiction is the first step toward recovery. But addiction recovery doesn’t happen all at once—it’s something that must be worked for, every day. Sometimes, it will be easy. When things are going well, you may not be tempted to give in to your cravings. But when life is stressful, you’ll need strategies to help you cope.

Gorge

By Kara Richardson Whitely,

Book cover of Gorge: My Journey Up Kilimanjaro at 300 Pounds

Hikers come in all colors, shapes, and sizes. Kara proves that the summit does not belong to people who look like Patagonia models, but to anyone who is willing to carry their weight and offload their burdens. An inspiring read for anyone who wants to climb Kilimanjaro and individuals who have dealt with eating disorders.

Gorge

By Kara Richardson Whitely,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Gorge as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Kara knew she could reach the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro. She had done it once before. That's why, when she failed in a second attempt, it brought her so low. As she struggled with food addiction and looked for ways to cope with feelings of failure and shame, Kara's weight shot to more than 300 pounds. Deep in her personal gorge, Kara realized the only way out was up. She resolved to climb the mountain again,and this time, she would reach the summit without waiting for her plus-sized status to disappear. Gorge: My Journey Up Kilimanjaro at 300 Pounds is…

Who am I?

Jennifer Pharr Davis has covered over 14,000 miles - and explored trails on six different continents - and in all fifty states. In 2011 she set a record on the Appalachian Trail by covering 2,190 mile miles in 46 days (an average of 47 miles per day). Jennifer is a National Geographic Adventurer of the Year and a member of the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition.


I wrote...

Becoming Odyssa: Adventures on the Appalachian Trail

By Jennifer Pharr Davis,

Book cover of Becoming Odyssa: Adventures on the Appalachian Trail

What is my book about?

After graduating from college, Jennifer isn't sure what she wants to do with her life. Through inexperienced and unprepared, she feels drawn to the Appalachian Trail and sets out along on the long-distance footpath that stretches 2, 175 miles from Georgia to Maine. The next five months are the most physically and emotionally challenging of her life--coping with blisters and aching shoulders, hiking through endless torrents of rain and a blizzard, facing unwanted company and encountering tragedy. The trail becomes a modern day Odyssey that tests Jennifer's faith in God, humanity and herself. But even at her lowest points, it provides enduring friendships, unexpected laughter, and the gift of self-discovery. With every step she takes, Jennifer transitions from an over-confident college graduate to a student of the trail. As she travels along the ridges of the ancient mountain chain, she realizes that she isn't walking through nature--she realizes she is part of nature. And she learns that the Appalachian Trails is more than a 2,175 mile hike: it is a journey that will change a person forever.

Your Baby's First Year

By American Academy of Pediatrics,

Book cover of Your Baby's First Year

This book is the encyclopedia of baby care. It has it all, from guidelines for newborn care, to safety checks, to tips for choosing childcare programs. The first half covers stages of development, and the second is organized by topic. It’s super-easy to check the index for what you want and then flip to the page. Sure, you can consult Dr. Google about these things, but it’s so handy to just pull the book off the shelf and start reading. I consider it a comprehensive, up-to-date, indispensable guide for new parents. 

Your Baby's First Year

By American Academy of Pediatrics,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Your Baby's First Year as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The guide to every aspect of infant care that’s most recommended by pediatricians and trusted by parents, with over four million copies sold—now in a completely revised and updated fifth edition!

From the American Academy of Pediatrics, the nation’s most authoritativename in childcare, comes the definitive all-in-one resource Your Baby’s First Year. Featuring new and expanded content, including the latest reports on cutting-edge research into early brain development, the fully illustrated fifth edition of Your Baby’s First Year includes 

• Guidelines for prenatal and newborn care, with spotlights on maternal nutrition, exercise, and screening tests during pregnancy
• Milestones for…

Who am I?

When I was a young mom, I had questions:  Why won’t my baby sleep? Are all these hiccups normal? Am I doing the best I can for my child? I wanted answers. So, I read lots of books and learned as much as I could. While no book can give you all the answers for your unique child, reading some good ones can take some of the mystery out of parenting.


I wrote...

That Mama Is a Grouch

By Sherry Ellis,

Book cover of That Mama Is a Grouch

What is my book about?

Will anything get a mother yelling about time outs and withholding favors faster than a toy-strewn house? In That Mama is a Grouch, an intelligent and very wise narrator reminds us in charming rhyme that mothers are human, most often loving, and that certain situations will guarantee driving them to their breaking point. Children from three to seven will delight in this story of a mommy who’s nearly out of control, and they will learn the importance of something as simple as putting away toys. When nerves are tested, pick up this book and start reading!

Virtual Child

By Cris A. Rowan,

Book cover of Virtual Child: The Terrifying Truth about What Technology Is Doing to Children

Written by a pediatric occupational therapist, this book offers unique insight into how screen-based technology acts as a physical restraint which undermines, fragments, and disorganizes various systems, resulting in delays and acting out. Rowan dives deep, and her concepts and explanations have informed my work greatly. Some critical points include her explanations of how video games increase visual distractibility, how not practicing hand-printing affects the ability to read, and how core strength influences the ability to learn. 

Virtual Child

By Cris A. Rowan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Virtual Child as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Children now use an average 8 hours per day of entertainment technology with profound impact on their physical, mental, social and academic development. One third of North American children enter school developmentally delayed, and child obesity is now a national epidemic. One in six children has a diagnosed mental illness, with child aggression and unmanageable behaviour increasingly the norm. One in six children cannot pay attention and require learning assistance. With research now showing causal links between physical, mental, social and academic disorders in children who overuse technology, schools and homes continue to escalate unrestricted use. Virtual Child offers parents,…

Who am I?

I am an integrative child psychiatrist with a special focus on how screen-time detunes the nervous system, causing issues with sleep, mood, focus, and behavior. In fact, technology use is the most underestimated influence of our time; it causes problems whose connections aren’t always obvious, leads to misdiagnosis and overmedication, and wastes resources. I am passionate about helping children and families methodically reverse these changes using screen fast protocols that provide dramatic improvements in functioning and well-being. I speak regularly to parents’ groups, schools, and health providers, and my work has been featured on such outlets as NPR, CNN, NBC Nightly News, Psychology Today, and Good Morning America.


I wrote...

Reset Your Child's Brain: A Four-Week Plan to End Meltdowns, Raise Grades, and Boost Social Skills by Reversing the Effects of Electronic Screen

By Victoria Dunckley,

Book cover of Reset Your Child's Brain: A Four-Week Plan to End Meltdowns, Raise Grades, and Boost Social Skills by Reversing the Effects of Electronic Screen

What is my book about?

Increasing numbers of parents grapple with children who are acting out without obvious reason. Revved up and irritable, many of these children are diagnosed with ADHD, bipolar illness, autism, tics, or other disorders but don’t respond well to treatment. Based on emerging scientific research and extensive clinical experience, Dr. Dunckley argues that the frequent underlying cause is overstimulation of the nervous system from too much screen time, wreaking havoc on brain chemistry, the body clock, stress hormones, and more.

This book offers a simple intervention that can produce a life-changing shift in brain function. Dr. Dunckley provides hope for parents who feel that their child has been misdiagnosed or inappropriately medicated, by presenting an alternative explanation for their child’s difficulties and a concrete plan for treating them.

The Cancer Code

By Jason Fung,

Book cover of The Cancer Code: A Revolutionary New Understanding of a Medical Mystery

After a cancer diagnosis, it is natural to wonder what causes cancer. Our understanding of cancer etiology continues to evolve as the science of genetics deepens. The Cancer Code reviews this research in laymen’s terms such that each reader can construct a narrative about what factors may have contributed to their illness. A successful cancer patient is an informed cancer patient, navigating the system with an appreciation for why some standard of care therapies are more effective than others. This book allowed me to look under the hood of cancer in a way that guided my decisions before and after remission.

The Cancer Code

By Jason Fung,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Cancer Code as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Author of the international bestsellers The Diabetes Code and The Obesity Code Dr. Jason Fung returns with an eye-opening biography of cancer in which he offers a radical new paradigm for understanding cancer-and issues a call to action for reducing risk moving forward.

Our understanding of cancer is slowly undergoing a revolution, allowing for the development of more effective treatments. For the first time ever, the death rate from cancer is showing a steady decline . . . but the "War on Cancer" has hardly been won.

In The Cancer Code, Dr. Jason Fung offers a revolutionary new understanding of…


Who am I?

I was 32 when diagnosed with stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. As a clinician, and now cancer survivor, I’ve become increasingly focused on empowering cancer patients through and beyond remission. Nearly two decades of clinical practice have taught me that an informed and committed patient makes better decisions about their care, harmoniously interfaces with their healthcare team, and stays focused on living a healthy lifestyle. I’ve read countless books about cancer, but this list outlines the essentials that I recommend to patients beginning their healing journey.


I wrote...

Cancer, Stress & Mindset: Focusing the Mind to Empower Healing and Resilience

By Brandon LaGreca,

Book cover of Cancer, Stress & Mindset: Focusing the Mind to Empower Healing and Resilience

What is my book about?

I believe the most important anticancer strategy is an engaged and healing mindset. Cancer, Stress & Mindset explores the contribution of stress to the initiation and progression of cancer; how stress affects the body and mind; and simple strategies to cope with the stress of being a cancer patient, from diagnosis through remission. This is the book I needed at the onset of my cancer journey, mired in the stresses of decisions related to my care. Years later, I wrote this as a starting point to help patients and caregivers cultivate an anticancer mindset.

Holding Up the Universe

By Jennifer Niven,

Book cover of Holding Up the Universe

I picked up this book because I loved Niven’s beautiful novel All The Bright Places, and she did not disappoint. The way Libby, once known as “America’s Fattest Teen,” deals with her unwelcome notoriety, as well as the death of her mother and her grieving father, is genuine and honest. As is her desire to make a new life and identify for herself as she enters high school. Her relationship with the handsome and popular Jack, and her ability to see through his façade, happens because she takes the time to be curious about what’s beyond the surface.

Holding Up the Universe

By Jennifer Niven,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Holding Up the Universe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Gorgeously written and oh-so-deeply felt - Nicola Yoon, author of Everything Everything and The Sun is Also a Star

From the author of the New York Times bestseller All the Bright Places comes a heart-wrenching story about what it means to see (and love) someone for who they truly are.

Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout.
I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything.

Once dubed 'America's Fattest Teen', she is only seen for her weight. Not the girl underneath.

Since her mum's death she's been…


Who am I?

I have always felt like a bit of a misfit. I was taller, bigger, and clumsier than the other kids. I listened to the wrong music, wore the wrong clothes, and read the wrong books. I wasn’t cool. And when I became a high school teacher, I saw many kids, especially young women, who I could see felt the same. When Young Adult literature came into its own, I really loved all the wonderful ways YA stories were telling the stories of the kids who didn’t fit in, and it made me want to read them, and eventually write one of my own.


I wrote...

You And Me And Him

By Kris Dinnison,

Book cover of You And Me And Him

What is my book about?

Maggie and Nash are outsiders. She’s overweight. He’s out of the closet. The best of friends, they have seen each other through thick and thin, but when Tom moves to town at the start of the school year, they have something unexpected in common: a crush on the same guy. But what if getting the guy means losing your soulmate? This warm, witty novel—with a clear, true voice and a clever soundtrack of musical references—sings a song of love and forgiveness.

Connected

By Nicholas A. Christakis, James H. Fowler,

Book cover of Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives -- How Your Friends' Friends' Friends Affect

Did you know that your friends have more friends than you do? This may sound strange at first, but once you realize how social contagion works, you will see its power to shape our lives everywhere. From obesity, smoking, and happiness to buying, voting, and sexual practices, we affect each other’s ideas, attitudes, and behaviors in never-ending ways. But it doesn’t stop there: our actions affect and are influenced by, those of our friends, our friends’ friends, and even our friends’ friends’ friends. We are deeply embedded in social networks, and they define every aspect of our existence. This is one of those books that have changed the way I see the world. 

Connected

By Nicholas A. Christakis, James H. Fowler,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Connected as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Renowned scientists Christakis and Fowler present compelling evidence for our profound influence on one another's tastes, health, wealth, happiness, beliefs, even weight, as they explain how social networks form and how they operate.

Who am I?

I am an anthropologist and cognitive scientist who studies some of the things that make us human—but not the obvious ones. I am mostly interested in those things that may appear puzzling or pointless, but fill our lives with meaning and purpose. Growing up in Greece, I read National Geographic Magazine and reveled in the documentaries of Jane Goodall, David Attenborough, and Jacques Cousteau, which sparked in me a passion for exploration through the combined lenses of personal experience and scientific scrutiny. In my own research, I have spent two decades studying ritual by conducting several years of ethnographic research and bringing scientific measurements into real-life settings.


I wrote...

Ritual: How Seemingly Senseless Acts Make Life Worth Living

By Dimitris Xygalatas,

Book cover of Ritual: How Seemingly Senseless Acts Make Life Worth Living

What is my book about?

Ritual presents a profound paradox: people ascribe the utmost importance to their rituals, but few can explain why they are so important. Seemingly senseless acts pervade every documented society, from handshakes to hexes, hazings to parades. Before we ever learned to farm, we were gathering in giant stone temples to perform elaborate rites. And yet, though rituals exist in every culture and can persist nearly unchanged for centuries, their logic has remained a mystery—until now. A new science of ritual reveals that it is a primordial part of human nature, that helps us soothe our anxieties, connect, find meaning, and discover who we are.

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