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Weight loss is a multibillion-dollar industry. It includes programs--the good, the bad, the ugly -- that worsen a weight problem, promise to change it overnight or, in the rare cases, promote healthy lifelong change. It is especially important now. A federal panel has just concluded that weight loss is as serious a national problem as smoking. In a three-part series, The Times takes a look at the impact of weight loss programs on people in San Diego County--from diet to exercise programs, from snake-oil remedies to the traumas of morbid obesity. Today's segment takes a look at the medical repercussions--psychological and physical--of "the problem that won't go away."

April 08, 1985

W hat do literary agents say about the diet book craze? Sandra Dijkstra, Del Mar: "Well, it may not be a craze anymore. Health books (such as the Jane Fonda and Victoria Principal exercise books) seem to be replacing diet books. It's more of a total approach. A recent book, 'The F Diet' (F as in fiber) did really poorly, disappointing a lot of people. Now, from what I hear, the exercise books are far outselling the Beverly Hills and Pritikin books. Sheldon Hendler's book, 'The Complete Guide to Anti-Aging Nutrients,' is doing well. A Santa Barbara publisher tells me 'Nutrition for Better Life' and 'Children's Nutrition' are doing well for him. So it seems to be a good sign--fad books are out. Of course, someone inevitably will come along with a Beverly Hills-like book and grab the market by storm. It's sad, but we've all seen it happen."

Margaret McBride, La Jolla: "Unfortunately, the only diet books that sell are the ones that have nothing to do with reality. People seem to want quick and easy solutions. The ones that sell are the ones that make it 'fun' for people, the gimmicky books. Something that makes sense and is sound nutritionally just doesn't sell as well. The reality is, people have to push the plate away, and many just don't want to hear that."

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