CF Reviews

Excruciatingly Honest Opinions About Health and Fitness Products.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The End of Overeating Review and Giveaway



Ever wondered how you could be such an "adult" in so many other areas of your life, yet respond like Pavlov's poor drooling dog when cued by the sight of crispy french fries or creamy frosting, or the smell of a bacon cheeseburger sizzling on the grill?

We know this stuff is terrible for us... yet some of us find it so difficult to resist.

Why the heck is that?

Well, according to Dr. David Kessler (who served as the FDA commissioner in two administrations), part of the reason we overeat is because our brains have been hijacked! In the book "The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite," Kessler exposes some fascinating tricks the food industry has for making their products incredibly, unnaturally enticing.

He also explains why our brain chemistry makes us so vulnerable to the cheap thrills provided by sugar, fat, and salt. (So for those of you hopping over from the intro back at Cranky Fitness wondering what the heck "orosensory self-stimulation" is, this it where it comes in: it's "the cyclical process in which eating delicious food tells the brain to make us want more of those foods." And similarly, the "hedonic hotspot" is not a nightclub but a tiny part of the brain about the size of a head of a pin that "causes us to really like something.")

The book also describes a problem that so many in our society seem to struggle with: that of "Conditioned Hypereating." Kessler proposes a treatment theory that involves "food rehab," featuring sensible concepts like like "planned eating." He also advises people on how to make the "critical perceptual shift" necessary to regain control of our diet and our health. (And Crabby promises to stop quoting practically every word the poor man has written "any minute now.")

So this is the part of the review where Conscientious Co-Blogger Merry Sunshine would provide the thoughtful analysis. Whereas I'm going to present instead a gratuitous photo of an Italian Men's Soccer Team in order to distract the heterosexual female portion of our demographic. (But this time, instead of their white undies, the boys are wearing black!):



Did that work? Are you distracted enough that I can get by with a really quick take on the book?

It's actually a fascinating read, and has a lot of great details about how our brains and current food manufacturing technology conspire against us to defeat our best intentions. No wonder we're so tempted to eat such unhealthy stuff! It's one thing to think abstractly "My those Cinnabon rolls sure are tasty" and another to read how carefully they were designed to make us helpless to resist. So the book is really useful in providing perspective on how tough it is to avoid unhealthy food, and to appreciate the power of the forces that lead to "conditioned hypereating."

This would be an especially great book for a friend or relative who does not frequent health blogs and is only just beginning to appreciate how totally f*cked up our society is when it comes to "normal" eating habits.

But for many of us who have long been aware of the Ubiquitous Evil we are up against at our restaurants, grocery stores, and shopping mall food courts... it's a bit like preaching to the choir. And while we all grapple with temptation, many of us have developed our own common sense strategies for indulging only occasionally, in moderation. Kessler's "rehab" techniques, while certainly sensible, are not all that novel or detailed. Because while stating the problem is helpful, it's the "solution" part that's tough to implement.

That said, he does make at least a good start on it, and while many of us may feel we know this stuff, we can always use reminders. Plus, there is obviously a huge segment of the population (no pun intended) that does not frequent health blogs. Many folks are in the dark about how pathological their eating behavior has become, how unhealthy that is, how it's not just a matter of "willpower," and what some good techniques are to regain control over what we eat.

So, want to win a copy?

Leave a comment by Thursday. Unfortunately, this giveaway is limited to folks who can receive mail at a U.S. address. The random number generator will pick a winner Thursday June 18th, which will be announced by Friday, June 19th. Please check in by Wednesday June 24th to claim your prize or we'll have another drawing. (NOTE: I'm going to be out of town for a few days which is why the entry period is longer than we normally do.)

Special Update: More chances to win! Sagan over at Living Healthy in the Real World and Rupal over at 101 Exercises are also doing a giveaways of this book, and they explain it all much better than I did!

Any thoughts on the obesity epidemic, the role of sugary, fatty, salty, processed foods, the menus as restaurant chains, the methods you use to eat healthy in spite of being surrounded by junky temptations, or the Italian men's soccer team? Comments of all sorts welcome!

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  • Dont need the book, but GO Italy!!! Holy moley, way to go Cranky....thats the kind of wake up I need. ;)

  • I would like the book. I would like the Italian soccer team... whichever is easiest for you.

    :)

  • I absolutely love reading new books... altho I do get annoyed with this whole idea that we are "addicted" to food. I mean, of course we are; without it, we'd die! But on the other hand, having given up smoking and turned away from becoming an alcoholic at probably the last possible second, I don't hold too much with food being an actual "addiction". Maybe it's time I looked at something that changed my mind about it.

    Or, maybe that would just allow me to excuse myself when I acted like an idiot about brownies. "Oh, I can't help it, I'm an addict. Woe is me."

  • I would love the book (and the soccer team!) As this is an issue I am currently wrestling with, I think it could be very useful for me.

  • I would be interested in this. Maybe I am just under-informed and apathetic, but... of course food companies want you to like their food and crave more! Isn't that the point? How they make a living? Heck, don't *I* want people to like my brownies and want more? I think I am missing part of the equation here, but I am interesteed in learning more.

  • Until I see (or hear about) someone breaking the glass of the Krispy Kreme display to get their "fix", I won't believe that people can be addicted to food.

    Drugs like caffeine are another story.

  • I know there was a book review in here somewhere but all I can focus on is the Italian Men's Soccer Team. Can't...look...away...

    a;lskejfa;oe

    (sorry, that was the drool hitting my keyboard.)

  • Hi Cranky- I would love to win this book, as I am struggling with these issues myself. It sounds fascinating!

  • ooh ooh... Random Number Generator! pick me! pick me! I've totally become conditioned to overeat... and don't have enough tricks in my book or enough willpower to use them. I'm thinking i neeeeed this book.. and so does my mom, my aunt, my other aunt....

  • I would love the book! Put my name in the hat. er, the random number generator... :D

  • I've seen a lot about this book lately but haven't read it! I'm hoping it lives up to the hype because our society sure needs something to work!

  • I'm with Christine, although my husband might object to the soccer team. Silly husband. So, maybe just enter me for the book :)

    I'm half tempted to give it to some of the posters that are skeptics about food being an addictive thing to some of us. As an ex-smoker & ex-caffine addict, I can tell you that this is the hardest thing I've possibly ever tried to give up. (not food in general of course...that would be sille. It's the "bad" foods).

  • Me want book.

  • I think my mom should have written this book. She managed to somehow decondition her kids by seriously disliking all junk food, but allowing it to us in unlimited quantities: "Do you like that? Huh. Tastes like cardboard infused with chemicals and dog %^$* to me." Or, "You want to eat there? That food tastes like it's been rotting for ten days and then zapped in the microwave for a few minutes. But okay, sure, we can stop on the way home." So, while I eat junk occasionally, I never really enjoy it the way it's meant to be enjoyed...

    Having already undergone this "perceptory shift," I guess I'm too lazy to read this book...but I'm thrilled it's on the bestseller list and some other folks may be getting the message.

  • I'd like to claim that I don't eat junk at the mall court or fast-food joints because I'm so virtuous and self-disciplined.

    But the fact is that I just don't have the money to waste. I can't afford to piss away my grocery money on a couple bucks here at Starbucks and a couple bucks there at Cinnabon. I think most people spend way more money on this stuff than they realize. Maybe if they kept track of it for a month, it would be the incentive they need to stay away.

    Being broke keeps me out of lots of trouble.

    said dragonmamma/naomi on June 12, 2009 at 6:34 AM
  • I'd love to win this book! I do think that the food industry does stupid things with our food (corn syrup in everything, e.g.) to make us have unnatural cravings.

  • Having worked for a food company for several years in my career, I'm always of two minds when I see books and/or comments telling us that food companies are "evil". On one hand, I understand that the way the products are manufactured and marketed are not in our best interest. At the same time, I'm quiet certain that the food companies don't have the desire to do harm to the people that buy their products. They are trying to produce something that the population appears to want. We just don't have to buy it and send a message to them in that way.

    So send me the book! It will remind me of why I'm trying to eat healthier/exercise/etc, etc...

    By the way, I'm a heterosexual guy... Sorry, not interested in the Italian soccer team!

    said Teeter Todder on June 12, 2009 at 6:45 AM
  • Throwing my name into the basket for the soccer team...err... book. :)

  • I've been reading your blog for a while now, and I love love love it. I am commenting for the first time b/c the book sounds really interesting and I am way to cheap to actually buy it so hopefully I'll win it :) Yeah or one of those soccer players would suffice if I don't win the grand prize!

  • Wowser! Thanks for posting that pic!

  • It's really bad, but the Italian soccer team pictures are more addictive than food. I would like them without the oil, please. Can that be arranged?

    I like the other poster's mother's trick of disparaging junk food. I gotta try that. Just so they don't catch me eating it.

  • Oops, I realize the word "addictive" was my word choice, not Dr. Kessler's! He talks about why it's so hard to resist unhealthy foods but does not employ an addiction framework.

    Sorry about that! I'll change the wording in the post.

  • I'd love the book!

  • Cool - I'd love to know more about the nitty gritty sciencey wiency part of why my crazy food cravings never seem to die.

    And thanks for the morning pick me up. Ah...Italy...

  • This looks like a very interesting read! Sagan over at "Living Healthy in the Real World" reviewed this today, too and is also having a giveaway. Must be a sign...

  • I'd like a copy of this book. I always wonder why I crave stuff that doesn't really taste very good after the first few bites.

  • Scholarly schmolarly! This is what I call a book review! Love the scenery :)

  • Great review! Don't enter me in the giveaway though- I just reviewed this book today as well :)

  • On the topic of restaurant menus/offerings, we are such a greedy society with such cheap access to food, the portions are OUT OF CONTROL! And if they served us something smaller, we'd be pissed off. I'd LOVE to see smaller offerings at restaurants, but I admit if they charged me the same price, I'd probably go somewhere else, order the normal (HUGE) portion meal, eat half and save half for another day.

  • Oh oh pick me, pick me! I have been wanting to read this book. I'm on the fence when it comes to food "addiction." Since I don't understand too much of the raw science, my only "science" comes from personal experience. I'm not sure I'd say I have been addicted to certain fatty foods because I really feel personal responsibility plays a large role in a lot of this, but I am also not willing to absolve the food industry from any blame. There are larger issues here of food ignorance and even access to healthy foods, which I would be interested to know if he mentions in his book.

  • Sounds like a great book, I would love a copy!

    What really drives me crazy about the obesity epidemic?? Food at K-12 schools!! Seriously, how does a kid even have a chance of picking something healthy when they have to choose between french fries/pizza/donuts/lord knows what else vs. iceburg lettuce salads, canned english peas/carrots (blech!)/mushy broccoli (actually I like mushy broccoli...but the school stuff is SO nasty).

    Don't get me wrong, I understand that school cafeterias are basically businesses now, and they sell to the demand. But really?? Should 2nd grader demand really drive what the cafeteria provides? They would eat gummi bears and icing for lunch if they could. That is not a responsible way to feed children, and it sets bad precedent for their adult lives. Especially if food is as addictive as this book suggest.

    Whew, glad to get that off my chest :)

  • Book please! Thanks!

  • I read a lot of reviews so far on this book but none of them included the Italian soccer team (who are all undoubtedly gay.) I am not thrown by a picture of a good looking man.

    I wanted to get this book, and I already read the first chapter free on Kindle. Looks like there's a lot of good info inside the book.

  • I'm not usually distracted by shiny objects, but those men are some glossy goodness.

    Put a European football player on an American diet and you get...an American football player. I'm so very thankful you didn't post a pic of greased-up defensive linemen!

    said MarriedToAnItalian on June 12, 2009 at 8:56 AM
  • Please put me in for the drawing. Sounds like an interesting read!

    said WireGryphon on June 12, 2009 at 9:04 AM
  • As a compulsive overeater who obsesses over certain "foods" filled with white flour, partially hydrogenated oils, high-fructose corn syrup, etc., I always wondered if/how/why those things had such a hold on me. Moderation doesn't work for me and my system. One serving of these lab-made treats and I'm "off the wagon" and back to obsessing, again. Home-made treats with healthier, pre-1950's ingredients don't catapult me off the wagon, though.

    Anyways, I'd like to read the book. I wonder if there will ever be a movement against the food industry like the law suits against the tobacco industry for artificially adding more nicotine to cigarettes.

    As always, great post.

  • I would love to win! Read good reviews of the book.

  • Would LOVE the book. I've been really focusing on conquering my food addiction these past two months and it's amazing! I eat so much less that food is just sitting in my house, going nowhere. We're so conditioned to eat and snack. I'm amazed.

  • hi; first time visiting your blog/review page. I would be very interested in this book; thanks!!

    betty

  • I saw an interview with the author, and would love a copy of the book.

    Oh Mr. Random Generator (said in a lilting, musical tone)...

    Also, at the earliest possible opportunity, I'm going to check out Merry's review too...I've been slacking off on my blog reading...for shame!

  • This book isn't available at our public library, so I would love a copy!!

  • Wow what a great photo and an interesting look book---! Would love to win the book!

  • I'm fascinated by these new popular/slightly academic books. I also would like some of that carrot cake on the cover.

  • Oh, man, I would LOVE this book. In fact, I love books like these in general. Seriously. Sociology and food are the two things I read about most, and this has them in THE SAME BOOK. I might just pee my pants, I'm so excited!

    But I won't tell you if I do. That would be embarrassing.

    But if I don't win, I'll probably go buy it. :)

  • *moving over to the Cranky(Merry)Fitness product review section*

    I read a review the other day (as I already stated) but I went back today and she wrote again about the book and wrote

    "One of the food-items Kessler mentioned was a "Southwestern Roll" from Chili's. It's basically a wanton filled with processed foods and deep fried. One of the industry experts admitted the food had been processed it in such a way that it was very easy to chew and swallow - quickly. It was, for all intents and purposes, pre-chewed."

    That paragraph really makes me want to read the book while eating a Southwestern Roll from Chili's. I once met a cowboy who said he'd show me what a southwestern roll was. I didn't know it had something to do with pre-chewed food.

    Word verification: werms

  • I'm reading this blog about resisting the hype of eating processed foods as I'm struggling not to get into the hubs donuts. It's a real problem for me. If it's in the house--I eat it. Unfortunately. The only "willpower" I have is if I don't buy it in the first place. I'd love to win. Thanks!

    amylou990 at hotmail dot com

    said AmyLou on June 12, 2009 at 12:03 PM
  • Whoops, the above post was supposed to be amylou9903 at hotmail dot com

    Thanks!

    said AmyLou on June 12, 2009 at 12:04 PM
  • I would love to win this book...trying to cut back on the soccer team men though :)

  • I've been eyeing that book for a while, but I still have 'In Defense of Food' to finish up before I move to any other reading projects. Your review is motivating me to want to read it, though (and winning would REALLY motivate me to read it, lol).
    Thanks for the great review, Crabby!
    -Karell

    said Anonymous on June 12, 2009 at 12:49 PM
  • I'm starting to better understand the allure of soccer...

    But those guys wouldn't look at me twice if I can't stop overeating, so please enter me for the drawing.

    Thanks!

  • Yeay! My library had this book on CD! (Hopefully it isn't all scratched up, though.) Hold duely placed, so please exclude me from the drawing, but I liked this book review. I've been seeing this book mentioned a lot on the blogs I follow, so I'm looking forward to giving it a listen.

  • Hi Cranky, I am new to the blog and am enjoying your style. Re: The End of Overeating, looks like an outstanding read. Recently my best friend and I were discussing the new studies being released on overeating and as a manager of a health food store who struggles with the same problems everyone else is, I am glad to find boosts to my knowledge that can assist in my own battle with nutrition and my customers!

    said Angela on June 12, 2009 at 1:06 PM
  • Yes please! I would love a copy of the book to complete my library of every diet book ever written!

  • I'm very interested in reading a copy of this book.

    ~thanks~

  • I've been seeing/hearing Dr. Kessler on some of the interview shows I frequent and I especially appreciate his perspective as an extremely educated, formerly overweight person. I too have found that the more I understand my brain circuitry and how the food industry works to manipulate it, the better able I am to make an informed and rational choice. I'd love to read more!

    Oh and hey, maybe you can get the Italian soccer team to record themselves reading the book aloud and sell copies of that too!

  • I work out each day, and try and get a good amount of sleep, but overeating is my total weakness. I can't help it! Anything to help me stop...

  • I am slowly trying my own reform, but it could totally use the help of this book! I want it, please!

  • I would love to win this book.

    Restaurant food is crazy. I don't actually eat out much, but lately I've noticed some chains (Applebees and Red Lobster) will give you half portions, although not quite for half price, the bastards! But it stops me from overeating.

    said AlaskaJoey on June 12, 2009 at 5:28 PM
  • I need this book. Funny, when I looked at the cover of the book I could immediately taste and smell the carrot cake, and not the carrot??

  • I'd love to read the book, I am an over-reader, not just an over-eater! Though I do often combine the two activities...

    I want to know how seeing fresh cherries at the farmer's market got me to pay $3 for a small bag when much larger bags are available for like $1.99 at Safeway.

    I once ate nearly an entire POUND of cherries at a whack! I want to know what the farmer put in them!

    Stick my name in the contest and pass the cinnamon rolls!

  • Shelley (above commenter) have you ever hear of "The Omnivore's Dilemma" or "King Corn". First is a book, the second a documentary. Focus on corn, and how many processed foods have some sort of corn in them. From HFCS to corn starch to hydrolyzed corn protein to oil to etc. etc.

    Would be nice to get the book, but I'm guessing it's not going to tell us that eating the carrot cake is not really that worse from the carrot itself. Sigh.

  • I would love to read this book, followed up with playing soccer with the Italian soccer team. I don't play soccer, but I think it could be a lot of fun with those guys. ;-)

  • I would love to read this book since I struggle with food issues and can use more knowledge.

    craziedee3@aol.com

    said Danielle on June 12, 2009 at 9:21 PM
  • Would love to win! Thanks!

  • I would love to learn more and read the book. I live in Sydney, so I guess I'll be buying it.

    I have a theory about 'resetting your bliss point'. That is when you are used to salty, fatty foods with additives and msg, then you are only satisfied with that type of food. Once you no longer eat processed type foods you find you enjoy and are satisfied with fresh foods without all the additives/salt/sugar/fat. It makes it easier to enjoy healthier foods.

  • Please box up the whole Italian soccer team and then also add me to the giveaway. If I can tear myself away from the team I will check back after the 19th to see if I've won.

    espressogurl at hotmail dot com

    said AllyKatt on June 13, 2009 at 4:29 AM
  • I need that soccer team...I mean I need that book....

  • Ooh, me me me! Pick me, Mr. Random Number Generator! Hey, if Anthony Bourdain likes it, I'm in! (Even though he is somewhat of the problem, what with his food porn he creates on "No Reservations," and all).

    The average American used to only be able to buy a CONE of 5 ounces of sugar per year for the family back in "the olden days"-- now, the average American consumes over 200 POUNDS of sugar per YEAR-- problem much??? I mean, restaurants and corporations even trick us by hiding 4-5 teaspoons of sugar per serving in things that don't need it-- their hamburger buns, tomato sauce/tomato soup, etc.... I'm scared... =(

  • Hi,I would love to have the book!I am from Argentina and here is not available!!!

  • As someone who may, on a very bad day, break the display glass at a Krispy Creme, I would be more than happy to get this book!

    said Lynntastic on June 13, 2009 at 12:55 PM
  • After seeing the pic you posted, I forget what giveaway i am entering. Phew! Do they come with the book??

  • Interesting book. I do forget how many people aren't really "into" learning how to be healthier and doing something about it.
    thanks for the review, it sounds like an interesting read.

  • i will take the italian soccer team if i don't have to feed them... 2 teenage boys are eating me into debt....

  • I could use the book as I tend to find a lot of conflicting information about eating habits. So something definitive would be nice. For example - I'm never hungry for breakfast - but I hear that it's important. So should I eat breakfast or wait until I'm hungry?
    It also wouldn't hurt to get my boyfriend to read it as he seems to think of half of a pizza as a snack. He never gains any weight. I wonder what his arteries look like.

  • I would love the book... I didn't know you had this other blog :-)

  • I would like the Italian Soccer Team to deliver the book and help me find my Hedonistic Hotspot.

    Wait; I think they ARE my hedonistic hotspot.

    Thanks for a great review, Crabby.

  • I'd love to read this book- it's been on my "gosh darn it, read this someday!" list for about two months now.

  • Enter me for this book and thanks for the picture. WHEW!

  • I need need need this book.

  • I have a long history of messed up food cravings, so I'd really like to read this book. Also, the men in black look very enticing. ;)

    I readily admit to being a sugar addict. Like any addict, it is something that I need to master so that it does not master me.

    I became an overeater of all things tasty (homemade potato salad, cake and ice cream) as a kid. What the heck is it about me that I cannot get rid of that as an adult?!?
    Trust me, I've worked on this issue for the past 15 years. I'm still struggling, but now it has become the start of a life-and-death battle. I'm at the age where I've got to beat it or be beaten by it.
    Pick me, O Great Random Generator!!

  • Go Italy!
    Wait...what question was I supposed to answer in this comment?? ;) Sorry! My hedonistic hotspot is working in overdrive!

  • Oooh I love Food Conspiracy Theory books! This sounds like a good one.

  • nothing makes me crankier that getting on the scale and seeing that i've gained weight in my sleep (no, it couldn't have been the ice cream with chocolate sauce i inhaled an hour before bedtime). i don't even want this to be the beginning of undereating...eating just enough would be heaven.

  • ohh I read about this book and I'd love to win a copy!

  • I'd love to win a copy of this book!
    Thanks
    April_3720

    said Anonymous on June 14, 2009 at 7:45 PM
  • I'm very interested in checking out this book. Thanks for momentarily distracting me and explaining about the book, whatever wiley tactics you use!!

  • I can't wait to read the book - it will help verify everything that I have been preaching, but didn't have verification!

  • Wow, it is hard not to comment on the picture.....YUMMY!!!

    I just have to read this book. It sounds like something everyone needs to read.

  • Looks like an interesting read!

  • I would definitely love to read this book- I have read some articles about chemical make up of 'food' and how the majority of Western civilization is addicted to sugar on some level, but it would be great to have more details!
    Thanks!

  • Would love to win the book . . . or the soccer team :)

  • I'm torn between the soccer team and the carrot cake on the cover of the book. What? I'm pregnant!

    I've long believed the food companies are putting something akin to crack in our junk food. How else to explain how easy it is to resist the yummy healthy stuff for a simple brownie? I lovelovelove fruit. But given the choice? Brownies every time. Unless the fruit is dipped in chocolate...then I might debate for awhile first. Or have both. (Hey? Didn't I just tell you I'm pregnant?)

  • I think our relationships with food are absolutely messed up. I'm not sure I'm ready to call it an addiction, but I do want to learn more about why I compulsively overeat some of the time.

    Next time post a photo of the Italian WOMEN's Soccer team for us non-heterosexual girls :)

  • I keep noticing this book in the window at my Barnes & Noble. Makes me crave carrot cake every time!

  • The book sounds interesting, but I liked the Italian team better in white undies

  • This chubby girl has no doubt that food is addictive! I would love to learn some new tips for controlling my craving and making healthy changes. In my quest to lose 100 lbs., I have found the food aspect to be much more difficult than adding exercise to my life. Is it bad that the picture of the Italians makes me want Fettuccine Alfredo and Tiramisu?

  • I'd love this book - the soccer team was a wonderful perk!

    gaby317nyc AT gmail DOT com

  • The thing that amazes me is that I really don't like the taste of sweet stuff, but I still get cravings for it. It's like there's a disconnect between what my brain wants and what I actually like. So when I have a craving I actually have to stop and consciously ask myself if I truly want that thing. The short answer is ice cream = yes, frosting or candy = no.

    So I'd definitely be interested in reading the book.

  • I'd love this book! And really, I don't need the whole team . . . I'll take the goalkeeper. I'm not greedy.

  • Arrgh! Yes! Me! Overeating! ARRRGHHH!

  • I've actually read the book, and am happy Crabby et Co. are recommending it here. (Definite food for thought, if the horrible pun can be excused.)

    I'm just commenting, as I use the possibility of meeting them for healthy eating motivation, in case there is a secret drawing just for the soccer team.

  • hugh? i thought you were giving away those itailian dudes ;O)ok ill try for the book instead!

  • Sign me up... i really need to read this book.. old enough to know right from wrong when eating.. just can't break the bad habit.. oh by the way.. food isnt the only thing that can make one drool... go team Italy!

    said Anonymous on January 26, 2010 at 7:13 AM
  • Wow It certainly caught my attention. I like books like these, it broadens my horizon and keeps me from being bored.

    Eating right is the only way to go. Being healthy is a gift but taking care of the body is an entirely different matter.

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