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The U.S. has the highest rate of obesity in the world, much of it due to the abundance of cheap, calorie-rich, processed food. Food companies manipulate our biological desires to scientifically engineer foods that induce cravings to overeat, using terms like mouth feel for fats and bliss point for sugars to tinker with formulations that will trigger the optimum food high. Coke even refers to their best customers as heavy users. Moss portrays how the industry discovered the allure of added sugar in the 1900s, and has been jacking up the levels ever since, without regard for consumer health, in everything from soda to breakfast cereals to instant pudding, in a race for market share. The food industry is not about to change, but this book is a wake-up call to the issues and tactics at play and to the fact that we are not helpless in facing them down. Moss is an investigative reporter with the New York Times; he won a Pulitzer Prize in 2010 for his investigation of the dangers of contaminated meat.--Siegfried, David Copyright 2010 Booklist
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American cuisine is just a delivery system for an addictive trinity of unhealthy ingredients, according to this eye-popping expose of the processed food industry. Pulitzer-winning New York Times reporter Moss (Palace Coup) explains the two-faced science of salt, sugar, and fat, which impart tantalizing tastes and luscious mouthfeel that light up the same neural circuits that narcotics do-Coca-Cola, he notes, calls favorite customers "heavy users"-while causing epidemic obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. But he also crafts an absorbing insiders' view of the food industry, where these ingredients are the main weapons in a brutally competitive war for stomach-share. He takes readers into the laboratories, marketing tests, and boardrooms where the sweet, salty, cheesy "bliss point" of cereals, snacks, sodas, and frozen dinners is obsessively pursued; the scientists and executives he talks to feel torn between health concerns-almost to a person, he observes, they avoid eating the food they sell-and the market-driven imperative to stoke consumer cravings. Moss's vivid reportage remains alive to the pleasures of junk-"the heated fat swims over the tongue to send signals of joy to the brain"-while shrewdly analyzing the manipulative profiteering behind them. The result is a mouth-watering, gut-wrenching look at the food we hate to love. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.