ENCYCLOPEDIA OF DIET FADS by M. Bijlefeld and S.K. Zoumbaris (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2003).
In this collection of historical and contemporary approaches to weight loss the authors set out to describe historical and contemporary approaches to weight loss, from the mainstream to the fringe. Correctly perceiving an enduring American obsession with diet and weight, they express a concern with identifying nutritionally sound effective methods of achieving weight loss that can be part of a healthy lifestyle and state their aim as being to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of various approaches in order to show that not all weight loss programs are created equal. In this they are partially, if not totally, successfully.
An entertaining introduction skates through the history of dieting and fad diets from the early nineteenth century, with tantalizing references to Lord Byron, Gone With the Wind and Densmore's Corpulency Cure, demonstrating that when it comes to modern dieting discourse there is little new under the sun. After this promising start, though, the book seems to lose focus.
The title itself is a little misleading in that entries include not only diet fads and weight-loss programs but also entries on general nutrition and lifestyle activities, individual nutrients, herbal supplements and drugs, and influential figures in the weight loss world. In fact, of the over 100 entries are only about 20 or so describe actual weight loss programs and diets,...
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