Select one of the keywords
Sicker Fatter Poorer    by Leonardo Trasande order for
Sicker Fatter Poorer
by Leonardo Trasande
Order:  USA  Can
Houghton Mifflin, 2019 (2019)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

In Sicker, Fatter, Poorer, Dr. Leonardo Trasande addresses 'The Urgent Threat of Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals to Our Health and Future ... and What We Can Do About It'. The author is a pediatrician, a professor, a world-renowned researcher in environmental medicine, and a leading voice in public health policy. He serves on national and international committees studying the impact of chemicals on children, and has worked in environmental health for almost two decades. He has written this book to promote the understanding of 'the long term-threat of synthetic chemicals and their relationship to endocrine disruption.'

Dr. Trasande covers how endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) get into our bodies; effects when they mimic our hormones; the contribution of hormone disruption to diseases and reproductive illnesses; the impact this has on society; how to limit our exposure; and what to do in the absence of policy change. Case studies make it all very real and disturbing. In addition to health dangers, the author addresses the economic costs of inaction, and warns that 'these chemicals are not going away without strong action from all of us.'

The author starts by comparing a 1962 New York City playground with one in 2019, and speaks of alterations of kids' 'basic biology and physiology' in one to two generations. He tells us that EDCs leached into our food supply and surroundings have been shown to have lasting effects that can be passed on to the next generation, including lower IQs, obesity, diabetes, birth defects, infertility ... the list goes on. Some countries are doing much more than others to regulate the use of dangerous chemicals. Trasande asks 'Why does big business always seem to have the edge over consumer protection?'

Complicating policy on these matters is the fact that hormones can follow nonmonotonic 'curves in which very high exposures appear to induce less of an effect than medium doses.' The author describes increases in neurodevelopmental disabilities (including autism); in obesity and diabetes; the decline in male fertility; and the chemical assault on women's bodies implicated in fibroids, endemetriosis, and breast cancer. Trasande warns us that EDCs 'are the second greatest environmental challenge of our time' (climate change being the first).

What can individuals do? The author promotes eating organic - if not, he lists twelve fruits and veggies most prone to absorbing chemicals. Fresh foods are recommended to avoid exposure to phthalates in plastic containers (they're also found in cosmetics and in our food supply in general) and BPA from canned foods. Avoiding flame retardants is wise. Finally Dr. Trasande talks about the economy and the need to change the health care mindset to focus more on prevention and on environmental health. His book is a must read for anyone concerned with our future.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more NonFiction books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews