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David Mittleman
David Mittleman
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How Salt, Sugar and Fat are Changing Our Brains

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Scott Mobray, editor of Cooking Light magazine, recently featured the author of Salt, Sugar, Fat in his article written in the New York Times. Not only was I struck by the interesting factoids in the book written by Michael Moss and highlighted in Mobray’s review in the NYT, I was also amused to learn that I went to high school with Mobray’s wife, Kate Meyers. I haven’t seen Kate since Allderdice (or was it Beach Haven), but I miss her smile. She affectionately used to call me “Tiny” and her house was the epitome of excitement come March Madness as we gathered to enjoy the competition.

Michael Moss is the one who brought us the term “pink slime”, if you recall the name given to the additive ooze in ground beef served at schools. In his book Salt, Sugar, Fat Moss once again reminds us why we should be careful of what we eat. For one, Americans eat 33 pounds of cheese and cheese products each year. That is triple what we ate in the 1970s and it’s not because we’re eating more high quality cheese. Instead, we’ve injected cheese into nearly every food that we eat, including cheese injected pizza crusts, cheesy crackers, and many other cheese products. Ironically, Americans have swapped milk for more cheese in a fat reduction attempt, but Moss says this is a woefully misinformed tactic. Instead, we’ve been conditioned to eat calorie-dense “cheesy foods” that have led us into what he calls “conditioned hypereating”.

It isn’t entirely our fault. Big food businesses like Kraft have spent millions of dollars crafting foods that keep us hooked into the cycle of overeating. In his book, Moss dives extensively into the scientific research behind the food industry and the brain’s pleasure centers where sugar and fat are like drugs. He argues that the love of processed foods (including cheese products) isn’t surprising considering that some market researchers have even left their high-paying posts in the food industry because of their ability to capitalize on the “salt, sugar, fat” hooking point for American consumers. It definitely looks like an interesting read, even if Mobray has a few negative things to say about it along with the positive. If you’re interested in other ways our food is changing our brains and leading to all sorts of health problems, you might also want to check out my recent article published in CoSozo magazine on the dangers of diet pop.