The Hundred Year Diet America's Voracious Appetite for Losing Weight

Susan Yager

Rodale Books




272 Pages



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As a nation battling an obesity epidemic, America spends more than $35 billion annually on diets and diet regimens. In The Hundred Year Diet, Susan Yager details America's preoccupation with diet, deprivation, and weight loss. From the groundbreaking measurement of the calorie to World War I voluntary rationing to the Atkins craze, Susan Yager traces our relationship with food, weight, culture, science, and religion. She reveals that long before America became a Fast Food Nation or even a Weight Loss Nation, it was an Ascetic Nation, valuing convenience over culinary delight.

Learn how one of the best-fed countries in the world developed some of the worst nutritional habits, and why the respect for food evident in other nations is lacking in America. Filled with food history, cultural trivia, and unforgettable personalities, The Hundred Year Diet sheds new light on an overlooked piece of our weight loss puzzle: its origins.


Praise for The Hundred Year Diet

"Worries over overeating, as Susan Yager interestingly reminds us in The Hundred Year Diet, preoccupied the public long before Americans en masse became so massive . . . Ms. Yager's bite-sized chapters are easy and pleasant to digest as she takes us through America's fat-fighting history, from its now comical-seeming beginnings through the wild pendulum swings of the late 20th century (when carbohydrates and fats alternated as public enemy No. 1) to the promise of the fat-substitute Olestra (with its regrettable intestinal consequences) and today's gastric bypass surgery for the severely obese."—Meghan Cox Gurdon, The Wall Street Journal
"A fascinating read."—Abigail Zuger, M.D., The New York Times

"Far-reaching, well-researched survey of America's fascination with diets."—Peggy Brown, Newsday

"Susan Yager has given us a delightful breeze through a century of American dietary prescriptions, from Dr. Kellogg to Michael Pollan. What to do? We still haven't figured out how to keep our food appetites to reasonable limits."—Marion Nestle, Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University and author of What to Eat

"By dissecting the aesthetic, moral and commercial basis of our obsessions with eating, The Hundred Year Diet illuminates the path to a healthier, and saner, food future."—Brian Halweil, author of Eat Here and publisher of Edible Manhattan, Edible Brooklyn and Edible East End

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  • Susan Yager

  • Susan Yager is an adjunct instructor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University and has written for a variety of publications on the topics of food and sexual health. She lives in New York City and the East End of Long Island with her husband and two cats.