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BOOK REVIEW: Handbook of Obesity Treatment

Reprinted from Eating Disorders Review
March/April 2003 Volume 13, Number 2
©2002 Gürze Books

(Edited by Thomas A. Wadden and Albert J. Stunkard New York, Guilford Press, 2002; 624 pp.; $65.00)

What a welcome textbook! This big fat book (very appropriate for obesity) provides the single best collection of up-to-date expert writings on all aspects of obesity that I've seen in quite a while.

Basically, here's the plan: 27 chapters in six parts cover prevalence, consequences, and etiology; health consequences of weight reduction; assessment of the obese adult; treatment of adult obesity; additional approaches and resources; and treatment and prevention of childhood obesity.

The authors are world-class clinicians and include many whose pioneering research and contributions to major editorial boards have informed and shaped the field for decades. The chapters are clearly written, filled with charts and figures, and are well referenced. The range of sciences from genetics through epidemiology is well covered, and the assessment and treatment sections are superb.

What's new and current? Well, for one, the chapters on body weight regulation and genetics have lucid summaries of new research concerning genetic influences upon weight regulation (with more than 200 genes thus far identified that contribute to this physiology), including excellent discussions of agouti peptide, leptin, NPY, and melanocortin and many of their associates. From the public health perspective, excellent discussions of the "toxic environment" and New World syndrome are informative.

The chapter on "Behavioral Assessment of the Obese Patient" by Wadden and Phelan includes a copy of a 17-page "Weight and Lifestyle Inventory" (WALI) you will want to copy and use as an assessment tool for your new patients. This tool by itself is well worth the price of the book. Readers of Eating Disorders Review will especially want to thoroughly read Stunkard's chapter on "Binge Eating Disorder and Night-Eating Syndrome," Wadden et al on "Psychosocial Consequences of Obesity and Weight Loss," and most of the 13 treatment chapters that span the field.

Here you'll find excellent information on exercise, behavioral interventions, drug treatments, surgery, maintenance of weight loss, commercial and self-help programs, treatment for minorities, obesity and body image disturbance, cognitive-behavioral treatment of obesity, obesity and self-esteem, and thoughtful appraisals of non-dieting approaches. The self-esteem chapter includes explicit directions and practical suggestions for larger individuals, and advice to parents ("dos" and "don'ts") that those counseling such individuals will want to review.

This is a book I'll return to again and again to prepare lectures and slides, and from which I will continually learn. It's a wonderful cafeteria that offers a lot to assimilate and digest, and is well worth the price.

— J.Y.


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