Friday, June 1, 2012

Recent Readings On....Eating, the Brain, Obesity, and the Sugar Fix

As the new controversy about Mayor Bloomberg's intent to ban super-sized soft drinks in NYC clearly indicates, American obesity--and what to do about it--is a sensitive issue. It is social. It is behavioral. And (as we now know), it is even a matter of neuroscience. Now, it is also entering the realm of a national policy dispute.

Sawyer Library often collects books that can speak to matters of public debate as well as scholarly interest. Here are a few recently acquired titles that discuss various aspects of this complex subject:

The American Way of Eating : Undercover at Walmart, Applebee's, Farm Fields, and the Dinner Table / Tracie McMillan
is "an ambitious and accessible work of undercover journalism that fully investigates our food system to explain what keeps Americans from eating well--and what we can do about it."

For a New York Times feature on the book, see this link.

Diet, Brain, Behavior : Practical Implications / edited by Robin B. Kanarek and Harris R. Lieberman

From a summary: "This title edited by Kanarek (psychology, Tufts U.) and Lieberman (a research psychologist in the Military Nutrition Division of the US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine) presents 14 chapters discussing practical and applied issues of nutritional neuroscience."

This is not a pop book, with chapters like "Diet as an analgesic modality" and "The reward deficiency hypothesis : implications for obesity and other eating disorders"

For a publisher page on the book, see this link.

Debating Obesity : Critical Perspectives / edited by Emma Rich, Lee F. Monaghan, Lucy Aphramor

This recent book "brings together critical perspectives on some of the recent claims associated with the obesity crisis. It develops both theoretical and conceptual arguments around the obesity debate, as well as taking a more practical focus in terms of implications for the health professions to outline an agenda for a 'critical weight studies.'

Here's a publisher page on the book.

Empty Pleasures : The Story of Artificial Sweeteners from Saccharin to Splenda / Carolyn de la Peña

From a review in Choice: "De la Pena (American studies, Univ. of California, Davis) offers a well-cited, thought-provoking, and fascinating analysis of the sociological, psychological, political, and financial underpinnings of the promotion and use of artificial sweeteners in the US. From the perspectives of the pharmaceutical and advertising industries, food technologists/ manufacturers, government agencies, the American homemaker, nutritionists, and weight-loss experts, the book examines the history of the use of saccharin, cyclamates, aspartame, and sucralose..."

For an author interview, see this link.

And on a related topic, here's a volume in the "Smithsonian Contribution to Knowledge" series:

Sweet Stuff : An American History of Sweeteners from Sugar to Sucralose / Deborah Jean Warner

Library Journal said of this title: "Sugar and other sweeteners are so intrinsic to American life that their history is worth exploring. Warner tracks some of the major threads (science and technology, business and labor, politics) in her exhaustively researched book. The abundance of references offers an excellent starting point for further exploration, and archival images enhance the text."

For a Smithsonian Fact Sheet on the book, click here.

As Mayor Bloomberg argues, all the sugars in our American diet (and history) have consequences. That brings us to:

XXL : Obesity and the Limits of Shame / Neil Seeman and Patrick Luciani
A summary of the book states: "Obese individuals are twice as likely to experience heart failure as non-obese people. More than eighty-five per cent of type 2 diabetes sufferers are overweight. And in the United States, obese and overweight individuals make up more than two-thirds of the adult population. Public health organizations and governments have traditionally tried to combat obesity through shame-inducing policies, which assure people that they can easily lose weight by eating right and exercising. This generic approach has failed, as it does little to address the personal, genetic, and cultural challenges faced by obese individuals."

Here's a publisher page on the book.

Back to the realm of our brain and what it means to our eating behaviors, we also recently added:
Neurogastronomy : How the Brain Creates Flavor and Why it Matters / Gordon M. Shepherd

From the book's self description: "Leading neuroscientist Gordon M. Shepherd embarks on a paradigm-shifting trip through the "human brain flavor system," laying the foundations for a new scientific field: neurogastronomy. Challenging the belief that the sense of smell diminished during human evolution, Shepherd argues that this sense, which constitutes the main component of flavor, is far more powerful and essential than previously believed. Shepherd begins Neurogastronomy with the mechanics of smell, particularly the way it stimulates the nose from the back of the mouth. As we eat, the brain conceptualizes smells as spatial patterns, and from these and the other senses it constructs the perception of flavor. Shepherd then considers the impact of the flavor system on contemporary social, behavioral, and medical issues."

For a discussion of the book at Science Fare blog, click this link.

Remember that you can always search for these and many more books in our online catalog (OPAC). And to browse a feed of other newly acquired books, see our LibGuide.

No comments: