WHY YOU CAN'T LOSE WEIGHT: Why It's So Hard to Shed Pounds and What You Can Do About It, by Pamela Wartian Smith, MD, MPH. Square One Publishers, 243 pp., $16.95.

Smith, who directs a master's program in medical sciences in Florida and has published books about women's hormones and vitamins, targets 18 common reasons why people have trouble losing weight, from lifestyle issues such as exercise and fiber intake to health problems like chronic inflammation. Quizzes may help you determine where you stand.

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Some of the listings of symptoms could be daunting, however -- the chapter on Thyroid Hormone Dysfunction alone lists nearly 40, from acne to yellow skin. And some of these -- "Irritability," for instance -- are common to many. (You're on a diet, why wouldn't you be irritable?)

THE SCOOP If you fit some of her descriptions, you might decide to contact your doctor. Which could be a good thing.

BOTTOM LINE For my money, Smith's section on "Solutions" -- and her chapter on "Putting It All Together" -- could have been a bit fatter.