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The Weaponizing of Salt, Sugar and Fat: The Secrets of How Big Food Got Us Hooked on Junk

March 1, 2013 in Blogs

By Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!

AMY GOODMAN: We spend the rest of the hour going deep inside the “processed-food-industrial complex,” beginning with the “The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food.” That was the cover story in the recent New York Times Magazine that examined how food companies have known for decades that salt, sugar and fat are not good for us in the quantities American’s consume them, and yet every year they convince most of us to ingest about twice the recommended amount of salt, 70 pounds of sugar—22 teaspoons a day. Then, there’s the fat. Well, New York Times reporter Michael Moss explains how one of the most prevalent fat delivery methods is cheese.

MICHAEL MOSS: Every year, the average American eats as much as 33 pounds of cheese. That’s up to 60,000 calories and 3,100 grams of saturated fat. So why do we eat so much cheese? Mainly it’s because the government is in cahoots with the processed food industry. And instead of responding in earnest to the health crisis, they’ve spent the past 30 years getting people to eat more. This is the story of how we ended up doing just that.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times investigative reporter Michael Moss. His new book is called Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us. He goes deep inside the laboratories where food scientists calculate the “bliss point” of sugary drinks or the “mouth feel” of fat, and use advanced technology to make it irresistible and addictive. As a result of this $1 trillion-a-year industry, one-in-three adults, and one-in-five kids, is now clinically obese.

Welcome to Democracy Now!, Michael. You open your book with a remarkable summit. Talk about who was there.

MICHAEL MOSS: This is a meeting in 1999 that engaged the CEOs of some of the largest food companies in the country, and they were presented with a vivid picture of the emerging obesity crisis. And what really amazed me about this meeting, when I found out about it and found the records to it and talked to some of the people who were present, is that it was none other than one of their own, a senior executive at Kraft, who basically laid the emerging obesity crisis at the feet of the processed food industry and …read more

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