Don’t get me wrong: I’m a firm believer about holding yourself accountable and taking charge of your health. That said, if you are currently overweight right now, it’s not entirely your fault, and I’m not even talking about family upbringing or genetics.
In the book “Salt Sugar Fat,” Michael Moss, a Pulitzer Prize winning writer for the New York Times, details how the Big Food industry went to great lengths to get people hooked on food, much in the same ways that cigarette companies got people hooked on nicotine.
The way to maximize profits was to find that consumer “bliss point” and the fastest way to do that was to add salt, sugar and fat to food products. I use the term “products” because it doesn’t even seem like food after a while. CEO’s, scientists, marketing people and researchers worked in conjunction to get people to buy more processed food while minimizing their guilt about it and getting their brain chemistry hooked, all the while knowing that it was causing obesity and increasing obesity-related diseases.
Moss writes about a secret meeting held in 1999 by the Big Food CEO’s where obesity was discussed and several leaders acknowledged their role in it and wanted to take steps to correct the situation. But then they decided profit was more important and that was that. The obesity epidemic obviously grew since 1999.
There are lots of instances where my blood began to boil as I continued to read, but what really angered me was when kids became the target of food science and marketing.
In 1985 Oscar Mayer was having a sales dip because people discovered the link between red meat and cholesterol. The Vice President in charge of Development had to work around this sales issue, so he studied mothers and discovered what a hardship the morning was for them: getting the kids dressed, having to make lunches and then get everyone off to school and work on time. So he created Lunchables. It of course sold bologna as the key ingredient and then crackers because it had to be able to sit in a warehouse for two months before it sold. When Oscar Mayer merged with Kraft, processed cheese became a no-brainer ingredient. Sales were great! Mom’s thought they were providing a convenient and healthy lunch for their kids.
But the packaging was expensive. Parent company Philip Morris funded it and then came up with an obvious profit solution. When in doubt, add sugar! So desserts were added to Lunchables. Snickers, M&M’s and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups were added. The former C.E.O. of Philip Morris joked about an article that said, “‘If you take apart Lunchables the healthiest item in it is the napkin.'”
If you really want to get angry, read the book “Salt Sugar Fat” or read an excerpt from it in the New York Times article here: “The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food.”
If you really want to get even, reclaim your power and eat clean. Stick to the perimeter of the store and buy fresh fruits and veggies and cook your own meals, avoiding all that added sugar, salt and fat. It takes your taste buds a little time to adjust (10 days according to the article) but eventually your cravings for the bad stuff will calm down.
What are your thoughts on this?
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