""Everything that has made us successful as a company is the problem." Such was a response of a member of the audience to author David A. Kessler M.D.'s presentation to a group of food industry executives about the growing problem of obesity in the United States and in affluent nations all over the world . In "The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite" David Kessler strips away the mystery surrounding the scourge of overeating. Overeating is an equal opportunity malady that threatens the good health and well-being of people of all races, ages and economic stratum. For each and every one of us the obstacles to overcoming our urge to eat richer foods and bigger portions can seem overwhelming. It seems like food featuring ever increasing amounts of sugar, fat and salt is available just about everywhere we go. And when we fail many of us tend to get a bit depressed at our lack of self-control and turn to food once more. It can be a vicious cycle. David Kessler wrote "The End of Overeating" to help people break that cycle once and for all. Kessler believes that when people are armed with the facts many will choose to make significant changes in the way they view and consume food.
For me, one of the key concepts discussed in "The End of Overeating" is something called "palatabiilty". Palatable foods arouse our appetite and make us want to eat more. Thus the restaurant industry is all too happy to "give the people what they want" which is usually greater amounts of salt, sugar and fat. For example, the classic American hamburger has given way to deluxe burgers of varying monikers topped with things like bacon, ranch dressing, pepper jack cheese and onion rings. As Kessler explains most of these concoctions amount to nothing more than "sugar on fat on salt on fat" etc. You get the picture. The variations are endless and none of them are good for us. Food processors also toy with things like texture and color to make food even more irresistable. Likewise, there can be no disputing the fact that portions have increased substantially over the past 20 years. Restaurantuers have correctly calculated that most people will probably eat whatever is put in front of them. It doesn't take a Rhodes scholar to figure out that larger portions = higher prices=greater profits. In the meantime, consumers struggle to make healthy choices at the supermarket where more and more highly processed foods are featured. Is there any way out of all of this? Kessler spends a great deal of time in "The End of Overeating" discussing how our brain circuitry can be manipulated by all of this sugar, salt and fat and by something called "food cues" which drives us to eat for reward and pleasure rather than hunger. Since I am not at all familiar with physiology I found myself a bit overwhelmed at times with this portion of the discussion. Yet I do believe I managed to absorb most of Kessler's most salient points on the subject.
Towards the end of the book David Kessler offers a number of practical suggestions as to how a person might overcome all of these obstacles and finally change his/her eating habits for the better. At the top of his list Kessler believes that an individual must establish certain hard and steadfast "rules" to follow. You might decide not to eat in between meals or perhaps you will forgo dessert except on Sundays. Each person must decide what makes sense for them. I can personally attest to the wisdom of this approach as more than 20 years ago I decided to stop eating deep-fried foods. I have not wavered once in all that time. In my opinion, "The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Diet" is a thoughtful and well written book. Dr. Kessler has certainly given us a wealth of information to chew on here. What he has to say has opened my eyes and I trust will finally prompt me to change the way I look at food. Remember the old adage "Eat to live not live to eat!" Very highly recommended!!
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Paul Tognetti (drifter51)
I guess I would qualify as a frustrated writer. My work requires very little writing and so since 1999 I have been writing reviews on non-fiction books and anthology CD's on amazon.com. I never could … more
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With engineers working around the clock to figure out how to add "irresistibility" and "whoosh" to food, and the ever-expanding choices (and portions) available to us, it's no wonder we've become a culture on caloric overload. But with obesity rising at alarming rates, we're in desperate need of dietary intervention.
In The End of Overeating, Dr. David A. Kessler, former Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, takes an in-depth look at the ways in which we have been conditioned to overeat. Dr. Kessler presents a combination of fascinating anecdotes and newsworthy research — including interviews with physicians, psychologists, and neurologists — to understand how we became a culture addicted to the over-consumption of unhealthy foods. He also provides a controversial view inside the food industry, from popular processed food manufacturers to advertisers, chain restaurants, and fast food franchises. Kessler deconstructs the endless cycle of craving and consumption that the industry has created, and breaks down how our minds and bodies join in the conspiracy to make it all work. He concludes by offering us a common sense prescription for change, both in our selves and in our culture.