The title states the present measurements of the author, and this long essay describes his body at various sizes, from nine and a half pounds to 290. The piece is divided into seven chapters, covering the experiences of being tall, gaining weight, losing weight, and the chemistry of energy storage and metabolism. Having lived and worked in the Pacific and Asia for many years, there is a discussion of obesity in the Pacific. There is also an examination of the benefits of a plant-based diet.
Much of the author’s life was spent on the Micronesian island of Pohnpei, where yams and breadfruit were the main sources of carbohydrates. Yam festivals continue to this day there, and men still compete to produce the best tubers. However, there has also been a huge influx of imported foods packed with refined carbohydrates and fat.
On a nearby island, Kosrae, a major study was done on obesity and its heritability, and the results hold powerful lessons for those struggling to control their weight. On another Pacific island, Nauru, the population attained one of the worst health records in the world after becoming one of its wealthiest. Clouse describes visiting the strange island as a child,
and he updates us on the current status of the population’s health.
The story begins on another island, but this one in the Caribbean. The author describes a near-death experience at birth on Antigua, the details of which were recorded in letters home at the time. The path from that shaky start, to being extremely tall, to getting control over diet and nutrition is the story of just one person’s body. But everyone’s body has a story, and this work is meant to help readers think about their own.