We gave it an A-
The amount of money America spends on diet aids — books, Lean Cuisine, weight-loss pills, and so on — could feed a small country for a year. But is it worth it? Does anything work? These, at least, are the questions Laura Fraser wrestles with in Losing It: America’s Obsession with Weight and the Industry that Feeds On It, her straightforward, anecdotal, intelligent account of a ”journey through Dietland.” As a typical ”Oh, I’d like to lose 20 pounds” thirtysomething female, Fraser has a history of eating disorders and has attempted practically every get-thin-quick gimmick in the book, so she knows of what she writes. When she visits with Richard Simmons, breakfasts with Susan Powter, and attends classes at Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig, she does so with an experienced eye; when she analyzes diet pills, she is her own guinea pig. Fraser is also a reporter and takes no theory for granted; for every ”expert” she interviews a counterauthority, presenting the evidence for both cases as clearly as possible. The evidence is fairly damning and leads inexorably to her conclusion: Diets don’t work. It’s time to learn to love the body you were born with and to ”eat your vegetables and go outside and play.” None of this is terribly new, but the sheer breadth of Fraser’s research renders her final arguments a lot more convincing. Like broccoli and bananas, they have a certain natural integrity.