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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Science Behind Addictive Junkfood

Posted by on Wed, Feb 20, 2013 at 12:23 PM

This 14-page New York Times article on how food corporations scientifically process junk food to optimize its addictive properties is a perfect lunch-time read:

The public and the food companies have known for decades now — or at the very least since this meeting — that sugary, salty, fatty foods are not good for us in the quantities that we consume them. So why are the diabetes and obesity and hypertension numbers still spiraling out of control? It’s not just a matter of poor willpower on the part of the consumer and a give-the-people-what-they-want attitude on the part of the food manufacturers. What I found, over four years of research and reporting, was a conscious effort — taking place in labs and marketing meetings and grocery-store aisles — to get people hooked on foods that are convenient and inexpensive. I talked to more than 300 people in or formerly employed by the processed-food industry, from scientists to marketers to C.E.O.’s. Some were willing whistle-blowers, while others spoke reluctantly when presented with some of the thousands of pages of secret memos that I obtained from inside the food industry’s operations. What follows is a series of small case studies of a handful of characters whose work then, and perspective now, sheds light on how the foods are created and sold to people who, while not powerless, are extremely vulnerable to the intensity of these companies’ industrial formulations and selling campaigns.


Comments (15) RSS

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Confluence 15

Let the fatty in @10 continue inhaling his cheetos & donuts. Dude's not getting laid with the gut on him and his health care costs are soaring. Pretty soon, skinnies like me are going to get health care discounts for looking good while chubbos like him dig their early graves. Have fun, fatties!

@3 - FTW
Posted by Confluence on February 20, 2013 at 10:29 PM · Report this
Town Hall Seattle 14
You can hear Michael Moss (author of this NYT article) discuss this topic in depth at Town Hall on March 15th. But you probably already knew that.…
Posted by Town Hall Seattle on February 20, 2013 at 5:19 PM · Report this
@7 You are slog right now......
Posted by _db_ on February 20, 2013 at 3:13 PM · Report this
Fnarf 12
Today I learned that "medium-chain triglycerides" count as "all-natural ingredients".
Posted by Fnarf on February 20, 2013 at 3:05 PM · Report this
@10 - At the very least you should be enraged for what it does to your health care bill.
Posted by anon1256 on February 20, 2013 at 2:35 PM · Report this
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold the fucking phony. Holy shit. Are you telling me, in this day and age, 2013, that companies are designing products that customers enjoy and would buy again? I've never been so horrified in my life. I'm literally angry with rage.
Posted by GermanSausage on February 20, 2013 at 2:21 PM · Report this
@6 - How nefarious is it to "walk us into a diabetes and obesity epidemics" (according to CDC)?

Are you in denial about tobacco too?
Posted by anon1256 on February 20, 2013 at 2:08 PM · Report this
Cracker Jack 8
It makes me think of the character of Famine in Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman's Good Omens... would it were still fiction.
Posted by Cracker Jack on February 20, 2013 at 1:44 PM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 7
One time I visited my friend Leo in Brattleboro who was a cook at a famous vegetarian restaurant. As we hung out and went about town, I noticed that everyone was always eating. The cooks would constantly snack. If we went to someone's house he'd open the fridge and take a bite of a tahini sandwich. Hungry all the time and eating every hour, but everyone in that circle was bone thin.

Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe on February 20, 2013 at 1:32 PM · Report this
to get people hooked on foods that are convenient and inexpensive

Oh noes! Convenient and inexpensive food? How nefarious! I hope you can all see just how deeply evil this conspiracy is! While families with two working parents are clamoring for less convenient, more expensive foods... these evil empires are using devious psychological and chemical trickery to sell convenient and inexpensive poison, completely ignoring their customers' demands for healthier and more sustainable food.

Posted by also on February 20, 2013 at 1:24 PM · Report this
@2 Its an especially vallid comparison as some of these companies have, at least for a time, been owned by Phillip Morris etc (see the lunchables section of the article)
Posted by lone locust on February 20, 2013 at 1:12 PM · Report this
Rob in Baltimore 4
If you're waiting on the food industry to change it's ways before you change yours, you're going to die fat.
Posted by Rob in Baltimore on February 20, 2013 at 1:03 PM · Report this
treacle 3
Capitalism! Where the bottom line is the only morality.
Posted by treacle on February 20, 2013 at 12:54 PM · Report this
The similarities between the tobacco and junk food public health crises keep getting greater. What are we waiting for to apply the same treatment (regulations of advertising, taxation, etc)?
Posted by anon1256 on February 20, 2013 at 12:48 PM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 1
I think that every one should stand up and run, knowing these items to eat are often created in laboratories. And you thought GMO food was bad!

Calling that stuff "food" is a stretch. Coke is not food.
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on February 20, 2013 at 12:28 PM · Report this

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