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The 21st Century is Making You Fat
The 21st Century is Making You Fat With obesity now —
at epidemic
  proportions through-
  out the Western world,
  are we really, as a
  society, getting fatter?
  And if so, Why?

A REMARKABLE BOOK, The 21st Century is Making You Fat by Pat Thomas, seeks to answer that question. Can it really be totally down to our diet and our lack of exercise?

Pat Thomas is a renowned expert in the field of health and she argues that it is not that simple — instead she suggests that other, more complex environmental and social factors may in fact be responsible.

In a recent news story, Alan Johnson, the Secretary of State for Health, warned: "Obesity is as bad as climate risk". Ministers are drawing up long-term action plans to tackle the epidemic after new government research warns that the health service and public trans-port will find it hard to cope with the sharp rise in obese children
and adults.

The 21st Century is Making You Fat gives you the full picture, covering not just why you might be prone to weight gain and why it might be difficult to lose weight, but also ways you can look after your health. The book looks at why your environment might make you put on weight and advises what you can do about it.

Divided up into sensible chapters that make it easier for you to find specific references, the book explains how dieting fails and offers a useful menu for permanent weight loss. It also covers the problems caused by chemical calories and has warnings about pills that make you put on weight. There is an explanation of how you are what you eat and an urge to be realistic — are you really overweight?

The problems of see-saw dieting and gaining more weight after dieting is explored: you can reduce your body's chances of losing weight by programming it to expect dieting and to store calories — some diet foods don't work and others are just not good for us. There is also a warning that continual dieting can lead to nutritional deficiencies that can slow your reaction time.

The 21st Century is Making You Fat offers a variety of possible reasons for this current health crisis, including human exposure to chemicals, allergens and other lifestyle factors. Pat Thomas suggests that the busy and fast-paced society of the 21st Century may be causing people to put on weight due to factors such as insufficient sleep, over-heating of homes and workplaces, and overuse of prescription drugs. Additionally, the book explores our exposure to hormone-disrupting chemicals, known as 'chemical calories' which could be making us vul-nerable to weight-gain.

Pat's findings makes sense. You do need to understand the things that make weight gain more likely and weight loss more difficult — ie, inactivity and eating burgers are not likely to help weight loss!!! The importance of exercise is covered and why it's good to put on a moderate amount of weight in later life. There are also tips to help you towards permanent weight loss and information such as why you might experience a temporary weight gain when you stop smoking and why smoking appears to keep weight off.

Did you know that too little sleep can alter hormone levels and trigger an increase in bodyweight? The 21st Century is Making You Fat explains that several key hormones are disrupted by lack of sleep — and we really do need our full eight hours.

Pollution and medication can also thwart weight loss and the influences of allergies are examined, along with cravings: "Allergies and obesity/ overweight is a vicious cycle that can be made worse if your diet is high in foods that also produce inflammation." The good news is that doctors can get an idea of the inflammation in your body by measuring a substance known as C-reactive protein (CRP). High levels of CRP are associated with a higher risk of certain obesity-related diseases, such as high blood pressure and heart disease.

Don't forget that if you eat meat, you are also eating what the animal ate — think 'mad cow disease'. And if you eat vegetables you eat whatever they were sprayed with. You should be aware of this as much as being able to recognise the chemicals in your home. Most people would probably never think about this but reading The 21st Century is Making You Fat makes you seriously consider what you put inside your mouth and body. Which can't be bad.

Pat also advises: "Getting more oxygen into the lungs is reputed to have the knock-on effect of improving the function of your eliminatory organs, such as liver and kidneys as well as your digestive tract." Stress can affect breathing and Yogic breathing (pranayama), which focuses on the out-breath, is ideal for relaxation and bodily health. Recent studies have shown a wide range of benefits and Qigong breathing exercises has been found to promote up to 20 per cent better oxygen consumption.

I was particularly interested in the description of Chelation — which can happen naturally. The best known chelation is EDTA (ethylene-diaminetetraacetic acid); an amino acid that is generally administered via an intravenous solution. It binds to calcium deposits in the arteries and is used in cases of atherosclerosis, where it has more than 80 per cent success rate. It can also move lead (but not mercury) from the body.

There is also evidence to suggest that it can also be useful for aneur-ysms, Alzheimer's Disease, senile dementia, arthritis, auto-immune dis-orders, cancer, cataracts, diabetes, emphysema, gall stones, hyper-tension, kidney stones, Lou Gehrig's Disease, osteoporosis, Parkinson's Disease, scleroderma (a disease of the skin and connective tissue), strokes, varicose veins, venomous snake bites and other conditions involving an interruption in blood flow and diminished oxygen delivery. This is best reserved for those whose bodies are very polluted and need urgent detoxification. Side effects are also listed.

So many things today can cause toxicity — think of fumes from com-mercial vehicles and buses. The 21st Century is Making You Fat provides details of how you can help to protect your body from toxic metals — pectin, for instance, which is found in apple and pear seeds, is an ideal aid. High-fibre diets, garlic and onions, leafy green veget-ables and drinking plenty of water and fresh juice are all great for de-tox, fitness and weight-loss. Detailed notes reference source material.

Essential reading for everyone who is interested in losing weight or improving their health, The 21st Century Is Making You Fat is a fan-tastic book that advises you how to change your lifestyle for increased health benefits. Featuring scientifically-reasoned advice, this book reveals the full story about the obesity crisis our society is facing, and what we can do to improve our own lifestyles and the health of the country as a whole.

Fat or Fiction? You decide. You don't need to follow the book relig-iously. Just cherry pick: choose the information you feel is relevant to you. And never forget — as Pat tells you — that the best advice you can ever get while you are on this Earth is to "Embrace Life".

[I always like to think that it's the quality of life that's important, as opposed to how long you live. And The 21st Century Is Making You
Fat can help you improve that — Ed

The 21st Century Is Making You Fat was published in paperback
by Gaia Thinking, Octopus Books on January 15 (2008) | RRP 7.99 | ISBN 978-1-85675-290-9.