Sylvia Tara
Blink Publishing
2016 | 256pp | £9.99
ISBN 9781911274001

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The Secret Life of Fat

In The secret life of fat Sylvia Tara deconstructs the science of fat in our bodies, and finds that it’s far more complicated than you would believe.

Fat plays an important role in many systems, from the production of hormones to strengthening our bones, and is not just a squishy layer on our bodies, but a functioning organ that keeps us alive. However, the body’s reliance on fat for many normal functions means that the body is very good at clinging on to it. Tara explores the chemical processes involved – and what happens when things go wrong.

Each chapter focuses on a different mechanism in our bodies that involves fat. Interviews with important figures in the field and the stories of their patients are woven into the narrative. This makes the book easy to read – I devoured it in two sittings – but it doesn’t feel dumbed down at any point. The final chapters of the book provide strategies to help tackle weight gain, which offsets the sometimes disheartening message that our bodies naturally cling to fat. The book is well researched, with an extensive bibliography of papers that lend it credibility.

This is not a diet book. It doesn’t make promises, and there are no easy steps. This is a review of what science has discovered about fat, written for a popular audience. It aims to help us understand how our bodies work and how we can work with them, rather than following fad diets and fitness regimes to lose weight fast.

Tara has very personal reasons for writing this book, which she lays out in the introduction, but her writing in the scientific portions is unbiased. Nutrition is a very emotive topic, but this book is based in scientific fact and is a refreshing change to the conflicting advice and opinions about food that we are subjected to every day.