I've been interested in this topic, and have done a lot of reading (despite being the same weight that I was in high school). The two most convincing books I've read are Good Calories, Bad Calories, and The Low Glycemic Load diet. I've come to the unpopular conclusion that carbohydrates are the culprit in our current obesity epidemic.
Willpower and calorie counting work great -- for about 5% of the population.
Here's a quote from the glycemic load book:
When I started practicing medicine twenty-ﬁve years ago, I
followed the party line. I recommended calorie counting and
low-fat diets for weight loss and was usually disappointed by the
results. People just kept gaining weight. Then, in the 1990s,
some of my patients started ignoring warnings about fat and
cholesterol and going on low-carb diets. The results were aston-
ishing. Folks who had been unsuccessful at losing weight for
years started shedding pounds more easily than they thought
possible even as they ate generous amounts of rich food.
Remarkably, their blood cholesterol and sugar levels looked bet-
ter than ever. It was as if they had stopped ingesting a toxin that
had been poisoning them for years. I became convinced that the
low-carbohydrate approach had tremendous potential for help-
ing people lose weight and regain their health. Indeed, as addi-
tional research came out, the medical establishment, mired in
low-fat orthodoxy for decades, has come around to thinking the
But just when medical science is focusing more attention on
carbohydrates, the publicís interest in low-carb diets is waning.