Book Review: Teenage Waistland by Lynn Biederman and Lisa Pazer

Marcie, Age 16, Starting Weight: 288 LBS.

Robert, Age 16, Starting Weight: 335 LBS.

East, Age 15, Starting Weight: 278 LBS. 

All three of these teens join a whole bunch of other teens in entering into an experimental study of the effects of the Lap-Band on teen patients. Each of the teens chosen for this study is obese, and each has some underlying emotion issue that has caused their weight gain. Though some of these teens don't want to admit why they need help, they know that they do. And, they're willing to try anything to get it.  

I think that this book is a pretty revolutionary one for teen readers. We've all seen reality shows where people compete to lose weight, and we've all seen the emotional layers that come off as the pounds melt away. And, we've all seen the headlines: America is an obese nation. 

Given our current nutritional climate, this book should be of some help and inspiration to those who find themselves teen-aged and morbidly obese. The stories of these three teens and the others profiled in the book could be anyone's life. Sure, there are some dramatic sub-plots that all teens won't be able to relate to, but the lives portrayed in this novel are fairly typical. The lives of the teens are not all bad and they're certainly not all good. They have issues with parents and siblings and pressure to fit in and date. Unfortunately, most lack the confidence to pursue relationships with others. So, when they come together, they form an easy alliance. 

My hope would be that this book not go unread by teens (and adults) who have not had significant issues with food or weight in their lives. I think that one aspect of this book that was done extremely well was the portrayal of the realistic feelings and emotions that these teens feel in relation to carrying their weight and shedding it. Skinnier people do not necessarily make happier, more well-adjusted people. So, there is enormous potential for others to learn to be sensitive to others who find themselves in a toxic relationship with food. 

There are so very many YA books that deal with anorexia and bulimia, but there are so few that talk about binge eating and overeating. I am not saying that there should not be books about the first two eating disorders, but there is definitely room to hear about the realities of those who hide emotions or stuff down feelings with food. This is a type of eating disorder as well. And, it's one that we need to understand more about if we ever hope to heal a growing number of people in our country who are hurting--especially our kids.