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Book Review: Salt, Sugar, Fat

Michael Moss is a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist who has made a career writing most the U.S. nutrient system.  In his latest book, Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, he attempts to explicate how the processed nutrient manufacture has been too then successful at increasing its command over U.S. "stomach share".  Although the majority doesn't focus on the obesity epidemic, the relevance is obvious.  Salt, Sugar, Fat is required reading for anyone who wants to sympathize why obesity is becoming to a greater extent than mutual inwards the U.S. too throughout the world.

The greatest describe of Salt, Sugar, Fat is its detailed insider perspective on the workings of the processed nutrient industry.  Similar to doc David Kessler's majority The End of Overeating, Moss interviewed a number of high-level electrical current too quondam nutrient manufacture executives, equally good equally manufacture too academic scientists, who were remarkably candid inwards explaining how the nutrient manufacture gets people to purchase its food.  He also pigeon deeply into historical records that explicate how the processed nutrient manufacture became the behemoth it is today.

In contrast to The End of Overeating, Moss places a greater emphasis on advertising too societal changes that direct maintain driven the need for processed food, rather than focusing alone on the palatability/reward value of the nutrient itself (and the cues that brand us crave it).  The painting demonstrate that emerges is that the processed nutrient manufacture is an extremely sophisticated arrangement that uses every tool inwards its tool belt (including quite a chip of science) to larn you lot to purchase too eat its food.  Companies create what they tin give notice to exploit the hard-wired nutrient pick systems inwards our brains.

Rather than demonizing the processed nutrient industry, for most of the majority Moss takes a fairly balanced see of its motives too actions (though he does demonize at sure as shooting times).  One of the most interesting too unexpected aspects of the majority is the seemingly sincere efforts around processed nutrient manufacturers direct maintain made to assay to amend Earth wellness touching on of their products, including imposing limits on the salt, sugar, too fatty content of their foods.  Nevertheless, equally Moss relates, the gratis marketplace dictates that these efforts typically neglect or are eviscerated, because companies that impose constraints on their products are speedily out-competed yesteryear companies that don't.  Adding insult to injury, publicly traded companies are savaged yesteryear Wall street investors if they endeavor to consider anything other than lucre inwards their recipes too marketing.

Part 1: Sugar

Part 1 begins alongside an exploration of a phenomenon that nosotros all intuitively recognize: people similar sugar, too they seek it out.  To position that into scientific terms, refined saccharify is palatable too rewarding.  As Moss explains inwards a chapter titled "exploiting the biological scientific discipline of the child", this is specially truthful of children, who direct maintain a hard-wired preference for refined saccharify from birth.

The championship of chapter ii is also specially telling: "how create you lot larn people to crave?"  This chapter is most the highly scientific efforts to create upward one's take away heed the "bliss point" for combinations of sugar, flavorings, too other ingredients that maximize the enjoyment too "craveability" (reward value) of soda too other foods-- ultimately driving purchase too consumption behaviors.

The adjacent few chapter launch into a fascinating history of the U.S. cereal industry, from its small-scale roots alongside John Harvey Kellogg's unsweetened corn flakes, to his blood brother Will's betrayal yesteryear turning corn flakes into a sweetened cereal too ultimately founding Kellogg foods, to the modern cereal marketplace inwards which around cereals are to a greater extent than than one-half refined saccharify yesteryear weight.  

Also inwards this component comes ane of Moss's scientific errors.  He states that the belatedly Harvard physiologist doc Jean Mayer is "credited alongside discovering how the wishing to eat is controlled yesteryear the amount of glucose inwards the blood too yesteryear the brain's hypothalamus, both of which are greatly influenced yesteryear sugar".  Dr. Mayer was a proponent of the "glucostatic hypothesis of appetite", inwards other words, that appetite is regulated primarily yesteryear blood glucose concentration (and/or glucose utilization), too that nutrient intake subserves glucose homeostasis.  Although doc Mayer made a number of of import contributions to the agreement of nutrient intake too blood glucose rule yesteryear the brain, many of which yet stand upward today, the glucostatic hypothesis was largely discarded decades agone because it is also simplistic too it doesn't foursquare alongside a number of basic observations (1).  Furthermore, I'm non sure as shooting what Moss meant when he wrote that blood glucose too the hypothalamus are "greatly influenced yesteryear sugar".  On a gram-for-gram basis, starch influences blood glucose to a greater extent than than sucrose, too equally far equally I know refined saccharify itself has non been shown to direct maintain whatever special effects on the hypothalamus relative to other types of carbohydrate.

Part 2: Fat

This chapter begins alongside an interesting historical intelligence of fatty including Aristotle's see of it, followed yesteryear a little scientific error: Moss states that no sense of savour receptor for fatty has been found.  In fact, sense of savour receptors for fatty direct maintain been clearly identified inwards rodents, too emerging show is suggesting that the same may hold upward truthful inwards humans (2, 3).  The query inwards humans is ongoing, but I would non province confidently at this betoken that no fatty receptor has been found.

Part 2 touches on the neuroscience query that is used to exploit your hard-wired nutrient pick behaviors.  This quote from Unilever scientist doc Francis McGlone was specially telling:
There is non a lot to hold upward gained from bespeak people why they similar something, because they don't bloody know.  These are real low-level processes that drive these primal behaviors, too I'd gotten into [functional MRI brain] imaging because it's a proficient agency to form of bypass the mouth, if you lot like, too then you lot tin give notice run into merely what neural processes are underpinning a behavior.
They are using fMRI to pattern e'er to a greater extent than appealing foods, looking straight at the activation of reward/pleasure regions rather than relying on peoples' imprecise accounts of what they are feeling.  This is what consumers are upward against.

In chapter 10, Moss assails the USDA for its alleged failure to effectively bound the country's consumption of fat, too specially saturated fatty (even undermining its ain nutrition guidelines yesteryear aggressively promoting cheese consumption).  I sympathize that opinions differ on the dietary fatty too saturated fatty issue, but Moss's perspective seems stuck inwards the 90s when he discusses the dangers of fat, cheese, too meats.  To hold upward fair, I concur wholeheartedly that added fats too cheeses inwards processed foods tin give notice contribute to overeating too obesity, but I see the number equally to a greater extent than nuanced than the black-and-white painting demonstrate Moss paints.  Moss's intelligence of how nosotros came to eat too then much cheese inwards the U.S. (hint: it's added liberally equally an ingredient inwards processed foods) is real interesting.

Part 3: Salt

Salt is around other palatability/reward constituent that is used yesteryear processed nutrient manufacturers to larn people to purchase their food.  Without salt, many processed foods sense of savour awful, alongside rigid cardboard, metallic, too bitter flavors.  Chapter 12, "people honey salt", contains a overnice intelligence of the vantage value of salt, including reference to a newspaper titled "Salt Craving: the Psychobiology of Pathogenic Sodium Intake", which describes people who are literally addicted to tabular array salt (4):
Salt, the authors concluded, was similar inwards this agency to "sex, voluntary exercise, fats, carbohydrates too chocolate, inwards its possessing addictive qualities".
Of course, most people are non literally addicted to salt, too never volition be, but the fact that it tin give notice hold upward addictive inwards around people emphasizes its pregnant vantage value.  Its vantage value is just why it is a ubiquitous additive inwards commercial food.

This chapter contained around other scientific error, gleaned from the epidemiologist doc Eric Rimm, who allegedly said the next most white patato chips:
"The starch is readily absorbed," he told me.  "More speedily fifty-fifty than a similar amount of sugar.  The starch, inwards turn, causes the glucose levels inwards the blood to spike, too this is a concern, inwards relation to obesity."
Really!  I don't hateful to pick on doc Rimm specifically, because this thought is widely repeated, but it has no scientific basis.  First, white patato chips direct maintain a relatively depression glycemic charge because they're to a greater extent than frequently than non fat-- inwards other words, they don't spike blood glucose equally much equally an equivalent serving of patently potatoes or bread.  Second, increases inwards blood glucose if anything promote satiety, non hunger (5). Some would say that rapid glucose spikes are followed yesteryear dips, too that these dips promote hunger, but in ane lawsuit to a greater extent than although little post-meal dips are sometimes observed next the consumption of rapidly digested carbohydrate, these direct maintain non been convincingly linked to increased hunger or nutrient intake.  Furthermore, these dips would hold upward less probable to occur next white patato chips than next an equivalent serving of patently potatoes or whole wheat bread, due to the smaller glycemic charge of the chips.  Blood glucose spikes don't explicate why white patato chips favor overeating too fatty gain.  People overeat white patato chips because they're calorie-dense too they sense of savour awesome.

Conclusions

Salt, Sugar, Fat is a real valuable majority for anyone seeking to sympathize the electrical current obesity too wellness crises inwards the affluent world.  The book's greatest describe is its in-depth insider trouble organisation human relationship of how the processed nutrient manufacture wins American tum part yesteryear clever marketing, maximizing palatability/reward, too maximizing convenience.  The book's primary weakness is Moss's brief but sometimes shaky scientific excursions.  Fortunately, these create non undermine the primary thrust of the book.



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