Weight Loss and Gain — The Science

My book, Gut Reactions: The Science of Weight Gain and Loss, deals with weight loss from dozens of angles, from genetics, food choices, exercise, psychology, and hormones, to advertising, cultural pressures, and childhood priming.

model with no weight loss problem

Walk past the diet section in a bookstore and you will find hundreds of books that each claim to have the solution to weight problems. Whether it’s a low-fat diet, a low carbohydrate diet, a Paleolithic diet, a gluten-free diet, or any number of other magical things to try, they all claim that your weight loss problem is simple, and has a simple solution.

The popularity of these diets is linked to the observation that they all seem to work. Why would all of these different approaches to weight control all have success? One reason is that they all limit your choices. When you are not able to eat everything in sight, you tend to eat less. Another reason is that each diet targets a different set of people, and work for that set, if not for others.

Of course, they all work until they don’t. Limiting your diet in this way is difficult to do for long periods of time.

There aren’t many things that we expect to work for all people all the time. People are different from one another. There are genetic differences, cultural differences, behavioral differences, psychological differences, and social differences, and they all play a part in the weight maintenance equation.  Add to these differences age, gender, gut microbiology, and environment and it becomes clear that weight control is a personal thing, and the solutions might have to change not only with each individual, but also with time and setting.

Obesity is not one disease. There are many sub-types of obesity. Some people will have disorders in how their bodies manage energy balance, while others may have differences in how they respond to reward, making it hard for them to resist highly palatable foods. There are many ways to affect our body composition towards more fat, and that is what this book is about.