TREND Are weight-watchers finding it easier to buy books on diet rather than follow a work-out routine? NIKHIL P. ASRANI presents the views of a cross-section of people

T he weight loss industry has become one of the biggest money-spinners. And in recent times, weight loss books have practically become bestsellers in the non-fiction category. Why are they creating such a buzz in the market? Is it because they revolve around celebrities? Or, is it simply because they are worth reading?

A healthy lifestyle, a toned body and glowing skin have become an obsession with women today and many are turning to diet books for solutions. Gone are the days when diet and related subjects were written about only in the newspapers and magazines. Recent figures from a few leading bookstores indicate that weight loss books are at the top of the pile in the non-fiction category. They also point to a major shift among weight-watchers from ‘exercise' to ‘diet'. Junk food lovers are more willing to invest in books on weight loss than in working-out.

Numerous women are inspired by the super slim bodies of celebrities these days and want to look fit. To help them get into shape, most stores are filling their shelves with books on diet.

Rujuta Diwekar, known for giving Kareena Kapoor her size zero look, shot to fame with her first book “Don't Lose Your Mind, Lose Your Weight”, and her second book, “Women & the Weight Loss Tamasha”, launched recently, is fast reaching the top of the list of must-reads. Payal Gidwani Tiwari, a celebrity yoga trainer who wrote “From XL to XS”, has also turned out to be another success. Namita Jain's “Figure It Out”, one of the most recent books unveiled by Deepkika Padukone, is focussed on the teens and creating ripples. Then there's Lisa Delaney's “Secrets of a Former Fat Girl”… the list goes on.

With so many diet books available, it's important to make a wise choice before zeroing in on a diet. “Rather than buy a diet book, I would prefer to visit a dietician or a fitness expert with whom I can have a discussion and get a diet chart according to my BMI,” says Kajal Ahuja. But, at the same time, the staff of Odyssey, a bookstore in the city say, “Almost 75 per cent of women who come to our store ask for diet books, the most popular choices being “Don't Lose Your Mind, Lose Your Weight” and “Women and Weight Loss Tamasha”. What's interesting is quite a few diet books have been translated from English into Hindi and other regional languages, and are selling pretty well. Now that there is so much demand for these books, we ensure there is adequate stock.”

In the hustle and bustle of urban life, we don't look after our health. “As I'm employed, I hardly get time to work out. And like every homemaker, I have to look after my family and do the daily chores. So, if I can't work out, I feel I should at least follow a suitable diet. As the fee charged by dieticians is a rip-off, and with many diet books reasonably priced at around Rs. 200, I think it's best to settle for them. Moreover when these books feature celebrities, they couldn't be giving wrong information,” says Ambalika Saha.

Should we purchase a book by looking at the cover or the author or the brand ambassador? “No,” says yoga expert Sukanya of The Indian School Of Breathing. “Books should only be considered a source of information. A diet formula cannot suit one and all. No two body types are the same. When it comes to celebs being associated with these books, it's just a marketing tactic. People usually get carried away when a celebrity is involved. So, when choosing a book, it's best to apply one's common sense! Diet and workout, both go hand in hand,” she says.

On an average, a diet book costs Rs. 200. “If I go to a celeb counsellor, I might have to shell out thousands, or even lakhs. A single counselling session, in a normal scenario, may cost anything between Rs. 500 and Rs 6,000, depending on the popularity of the dietician! Writing a diet book is something that's not done overnight. The author does so much research before publishing a book, says Aditi Shrivastava, a sociology graduate. She adds, if there is a celebrity involved in the respective book, then why shouldn't I consider it a reliable source?

Rama Lakshmi, a well-known nutritionist with O2 Health Studio, says, “Losing weight should not be a short-term goal. Along with a diet plan, women should work towards keeping fit and stick to a workout regimen. An ideal way to reach your fitness goal should be a sensible diet coupled with adequate physical activity. One shouldn't stop with just reading random diet books.”