The banality of overeating obsession

In: Uncategorized

9 Nov 2009

A scathing review by Jacob Sullum in Reason of a book on overeating by David Kessler, a former head of the Food and Drug Administration under Bill Clinton. A couple of paragraphs will give the flavour of Sullum’s delicious critique:

“Kessler fearlessly accuses major restaurant chains of a crime they brag about, relying on unnamed “insiders” to reveal that comestible pushers such as Cinnabon and The Cheesecake Factory deliberately make their food delicious—or, as he breathlessly puts it, “design food specifically to be highly hedonic.” Kessler certainly has the goods on the corporate conspiracy to serve people food they like. ‘We come up with craveable flavors, and the consumers come back, even days later,’ a ‘research chef at Chili’s’ confesses to him. Kessler also reveals that Nabisco lures Oreo eaters through a dastardly combination of sweet white filling and crunchy, bittersweet chocolate wafers, achieving ‘what’s called dynamic contrast.’ Or maybe it’s ‘what the industry calls ‘dynamic novelty,’?’ as Kessler claims in another Oreo discussion elsewhere in the book. Either way, it’s so good it must be bad.

“Not only do these sneaky bastards create irresistible food; they then turn around and tell people about it. ‘With its ability to create superstimuli, coupled with its marketing prowess, the industry has cracked the code of conditioned hypereating and learned exactly how to manipulate our eating behavior,’ Kessler writes. ‘It has figured out the programming that gets us to pursue the food it wants to sell.’”

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