Yep -- more "got behind, so just a few quickie updates" book posts from Hazel again.
#29 was The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite, by David A. Kessler (New York: Rodale, 2009).
Jacket summary: "Most of us know what it feels like to fall under the spell of food -- when one slice of pizza turns into half a pie, or a handful of chips leads to an empty bag. But it's harder to understand why we can't seem to stop eating even when we know better. When we want so badly to say "no," why do we continue to reach for food? Dr. David Kessler, the dynamic former FDA commissioner who reinvented the food label and tackled the tobacco industry, now reveals how the food industry has hijacked the brains of millions of Americans. The result? America's number-one public health issue. Dr. Kessler cracks the code of overeating by explaining how our bodies and minds are changed when we consume foods that contain sugar, fat, and salt. Food manufacturers create products by manipulating these ingredients to stimulate our appetites, setting in motion a cycle of desire and consumption that ends with a nation of overeaters. The End of Overeating explains for the first time why it is exceptionally difficult to resist certain foods and why it's so easy to overindulge. Dr. Kessler met with top scientists, physicians, and food industry insiders. The End of Overeating uncovers the shocking facts about how we lost control over our eating habits and how we can get it back. Dr. Kessler presents groundbreaking research, along with what is sure to be a controversial view inside the industry that continues to feed a nation of overeaters from popular brand manufacturers to advertisers, chain restaurants, and fast food franchises. For the millions of people struggling with weight as well as for those of us who simply don't understand why we can't seem to stop eating our favorite foods, Dr. Kessler's cutting-edge investigation offers new insights and helpful tools to help us find a solution. There has never been a more thorough, compelling, or in-depth analysis of why we eat the way we do."
My take: Interesting, but didn't quite live up to expectations. The whole idea of overeating as biologically conditioned, rather than just reflecting a widespread lack of individual willpower, is interesting, but a lot of the exposes of just how the food industry targets our taste buds seemed like a rehash of Fast Food Nation, Supersize Me, and The Omnivore's Dilemma. It also wasn't clear whether Kessler intended this to be a public health book or a self-help guide. It ends up with a foot in both camps, but not quite swimming proficiently in either. Still a worthwhile contribution to the literature on food, nutrition, and culture, though.
- Ithaca, New York
- MWF, now officially 42, loves long walks on the beach and laughing with friends ... oh, wait. By day, I'm a mid-level university administrator reluctant to be more specific on a public forum. Nights and weekends, though, I'm a homebody with strong nerdist leanings. I'm never happier than when I'm chatting around the fire, playing board games, cooking up some pasta, and/or road-tripping with my family and friends. I studied psychology and then labor economics in school, and I work in higher education. From time to time I get smug, obsessive, or just plain boring about some combination of these topics, especially when inequality, parenting, or consumer culture are involved. You have been warned.