Why we’re so fat

Steve Shapin in The New Yorker:

Hleith19On January 20, 2003, the English journalist William Leith decides he has to lose weight. That’s the day he gets on the bathroom scale and finds that it’s “the fattest day of my life”: he’s just over six feet tall and he weighs two hundred and thirty-six pounds. He feels lousy. He feels repulsive. In fact, he is repulsive. His girlfriend tells him to stop tucking his shirt into his trousers—“It just bulks you out”—and she doesn’t want to have sex with him anymore. He resolves, not for the first time, to do something about it. He gets on a plane and goes to New York to see Dr. Atkins, and he decides, more or less at the same time, to write a book about his eating problems. “The Hungry Years: Confessions of a Food Addict” (Gotham; $25) is the result: Bridget Jones with a Y chromosome, a significant coke habit, and a sneaky sort of intellectual ambition.

Leith’s book is about food addiction, but he’s interested in all sorts of addictions and what it is about our culture that makes it so easy to stuff ourselves, leaving us filled but unfulfilled: “This is the fat society. This is where people come, so they can have exactly what they want. And what they want is . . . more.”

More here.