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Sunday, October 13, 2013

Book Review: Salt, Sugar, Fat

Michael Moss is a Pulitzer prize-profitable journalist who has made a career writing about the US meals system.  In his newest guide, Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, he makes an attempt to make clear how the processed meals market has been so effective at escalating its management in excess of US "stomach share".  Although the ebook doesn't emphasis on the obesity epidemic, the relevance is apparent.  Salt, Sugar, Body fat is necessary reading for any individual who wants to recognize why being overweight is turning out to be far more typical in the US and through the globe.

The greatest power of Salt, Sugar, Excess fat is its detailed insider standpoint on the workings of the processed foods market.  Similar to Dr. David Kessler's e-book The Conclude of Overeating, Moss interviewed a quantity of higher-amount existing and previous meals business executives, as effectively as sector and tutorial researchers, who were remarkably candid in explaining how the meals business gets men and women to acquire its meals.  He also dove deeply into historical data that describe how the processed food sector became the behemoth it is right now.

In contrast to The Conclude of Overeating, Moss places a better emphasis on promoting and societal adjustments that have driven the need for processed foodstuff, fairly than concentrating exclusively on the palatability/reward value of the foodstuff by itself (and the cues that make us crave it).  The picture that emerges is that the processed meals sector is an extremely advanced method that makes use of every single resource in its instrument belt (including really a bit of science) to get you to purchase and consume its foods.  Companies do what they can to exploit the hard-wired meals selection methods in our brains.

Fairly than demonizing the processed foods industry, for most of the ebook Moss takes a reasonably balanced look at of its motives and actions (however he does demonize at specified occasions).  One of the most fascinating and sudden factors of the book is the seemingly honest initiatives some processed meals manufacturers have created to try to enhance the general public overall health impact of their merchandise, which includes imposing boundaries on the salt, sugar, and fat articles of their foodstuff.  Nevertheless, as Moss relates, the free marketplace dictates that these efforts generally are unsuccessful or are eviscerated, since organizations that impose constraints on their goods are swiftly out-competed by companies that never.  Adding insult to injury, publicly traded organizations are savaged by Wall road buyers if they endeavor to contemplate anything other than earnings in their recipes and marketing and advertising.

Portion one: Sugar

Element one commences with an exploration of a phenomenon that we all intuitively understand: men and women like sugar, and they find it out.  To put that into scientific conditions, sugar is palatable and satisfying.  As Moss explains in a chapter titled "exploiting the biology of the child", this is especially correct of kids, who have a challenging-wired preference for sugar from delivery.

The title of chapter two is also specifically telling: "how do you get men and women to crave?"  This chapter is about the hugely scientific initiatives to determine the "bliss stage" for combinations of sugar, flavorings, and other elements that improve the satisfaction and "craveability" (reward price) of soda and other food items-- ultimately driving purchase and consumption behaviors.

The up coming few chapter launch into a intriguing historical past of the US cereal sector, from its modest roots with John Harvey Kellogg's unsweetened corn flakes, to his brother Will's betrayal by turning corn flakes into a sweetened cereal and in the long run founding Kellogg meals, to the contemporary cereal industry in which some cereals are a lot more than half sugar by fat.  

Also in this portion will come one of Moss's scientific problems.  He states that the late Harvard physiologist Dr. Jean Mayer is "credited with getting how the wish to eat is controlled by the amount of glucose in the blood and by the brain's hypothalamus, the two of which are greatly influenced by sugar".  Dr. Mayer was a proponent of the "glucostatic speculation of hunger", in other terms, that urge for food is controlled primarily by blood glucose concentration (and/or glucose utilization), and that foods ingestion subserves glucose homeostasis.  Although Dr. Mayer created a number of important contributions to the understanding of meals intake and blood glucose regulation by the mind, a lot of of which nevertheless stand nowadays, the glucostatic hypothesis was largely discarded decades in the past since it is way too simplistic and it will not square with a variety of fundamental observations (1).  Furthermore, I'm not sure what Moss intended when he wrote that blood glucose and the hypothalamus are "tremendously influenced by sugar".  On a gram-for-gram basis, starch influences blood glucose more than sucrose, and as much as I know sugar by itself has not been shown to have any particular outcomes on the hypothalamus relative to other kinds of carbohydrate.

Portion 2: Excess fat

This chapter starts with an interesting historical dialogue of fat such as Aristotle's check out of it, followed by a small scientific error: Moss states that no flavor receptor for body fat has been identified.  In truth, style receptors for unwanted fat have been clearly discovered in rodents, and rising evidence is suggesting that the identical may be accurate in human beings (two, three).  The research in people is ongoing, but I would not state confidently at this position that no excess fat receptor has been located.

Part 2 touches on the neuroscience research that is employed to exploit your challenging-wired foods choice behaviors.  This quote from Unilever scientist Dr. Francis McGlone was specifically telling:


There is not a lot to be gained from asking folks why they like something, simply because they don't bloody know.  These are extremely minimal-degree procedures that push these elementary behaviors, and I might gotten into [purposeful MRI mind] imaging since it really is a great way to form of bypass the mouth, if you like, so you can see just what neural procedures are underpinning a behavior.



They are utilizing fMRI to layout ever a lot more attractive meals, searching straight at the activation of reward/pleasure regions instead than relying on peoples' imprecise accounts of what they are emotion.  This is what shoppers are up from.

In chapter ten, Moss assails the USDA for its alleged failure to successfully restrain the country's use of body fat, and especially saturated fat (even undermining its own nutrition tips by aggressively selling cheese use).  I understand that viewpoints differ on the dietary excess fat and saturated unwanted fat situation, but Moss's viewpoint would seem caught in the 90s when he discusses the risks of fat, cheese, and meats.  To be fair, I agree wholeheartedly that included fat and cheeses in processed meals can lead to overeating and weight problems, but I see the situation as far more nuanced than the black-and-white photo Moss paints.  Moss's discussion of how we came to eat so a lot cheese in the US (trace: it's additional liberally as an ingredient in processed food items) is really interesting.

Portion 3: Salt

Salt is an additional palatability/reward element that is utilized by processed food makers to get folks to acquire their foods.  Without salt, many processed foodstuff taste terrible, with powerful cardboard, metallic, and bitter flavors.  Chapter twelve, "men and women enjoy salt", contains a good dialogue of the reward worth of salt, such as reference to a paper titled "Salt Craving: the Psychobiology of Pathogenic Sodium Consumption", which describes people who are practically addicted to salt (4):


Salt, the authors concluded, was comparable in this way to "intercourse, voluntary exercising, fats, carbohydrates and chocolate, in its possessing addictive attributes".



Of system, most people are not practically addicted to salt, and in no way will be, but the fact that it can be addictive in some individuals emphasizes its substantial reward worth.  Its reward value is exactly why it is a ubiquitous additive in business foodstuff.

This chapter contained yet another scientific error, gleaned from the epidemiologist Dr. Eric Rimm, who allegedly mentioned the following about potato chips:


"The starch is easily absorbed," he instructed me.  "More rapidly even than a equivalent volume of sugar.  The starch, in turn, triggers the glucose amounts in the blood to spike, and this is a worry, in relation to being overweight."



Genuinely!  I do not indicate to choose on Dr. Rimm exclusively, since this concept is commonly repeated, but it has no scientific basis.  First, potato chips have a reasonably reduced glycemic load simply because they are primarily fat-- in other words, they will not spike blood glucose as much as an equivalent serving of simple potatoes or bread.  Second, will increase in blood glucose if something promote satiety, not starvation (
Title: Book Review: Salt, Sugar, Fat
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