From a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter at The New York Times comes the explosive story of the rise of the processed food industry and its link to the emerging obesity epidemic. Michael Moss reveals how companies use salt, sugar, and fat to addict us and, more important, how we can fight back.
Every year, the average American eats 33 pounds of cheese (triple what we ate in 1970) and 70 pounds of sugar (about 22 teaspoons a day). We ingest 8,500 milligrams of salt a day, double the recommended amount, and almost none of that comes from the shakers on our table. It comes from processed food. It’s no wonder, then, that one in three adults, and one in five kids, is clinically obese. It’s no wonder that 26 million Americans have diabetes, the processed food industry in the U.S. accounts for $1 trillion a year in sales, and the total economic cost of this health crisis is approaching $300 billion a year.
In Salt Sugar Fat, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Michael Moss shows how we got here. Featuring examples from some of the most recognizable (and profitable) companies and brands of the last half century - including Kraft, Coca-Cola, Lunchables, Kellogg, Nestlé, Oreos, Cargill, Capri Sun, and many more - Moss’s explosive, empowering narrative is grounded in meticulous, often eye-opening research.
Moss takes us inside the labs where food scientists use cutting-edge technology to calculate the "bliss point" of sugary beverages or enhance the "mouthfeel" of fat by manipulating its chemical structure. He unearths marketing campaigns designed - in a technique adapted from tobacco companies - to redirect concerns about the health risks of their products: Dial back on one ingredient, pump up the other two, and tout the new line as "fat-free" or "low-salt". He talks to concerned executives who confess that they could never produce truly healthy alternatives to their products even if serious regulation became a reality. Simply put: The industry itself would cease to exist without salt, sugar, and fat. Just as millions of "heavy users" - as the companies refer to their most ardent customers - are addicted to this seductive trio, so too are the companies that peddle them. You will never look at a nutrition label the same way again.
©2013 Michael Moss (P)2013 Random House Audio
"What happens when one of the country’s great investigative reporters infiltrates the most disastrous cartel of modern times: a processed food industry that’s making a fortune by slowly poisoning an unwitting population? You get this terrific, powerfully written book, jammed with startling disclosures, jaw-dropping confessions and, importantly, the charting of a path to a better, healthier future. This book should be read by anyone who tears a shiny wrapper and opens wide. That’s all of us." (Ron Suskind, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President)
"In this meticulously researched book, Michael Moss tells the chilling story of how the food giants have seduced everyone in this country. He understands a vital and terrifying truth: that we are not just eating fast food when we succumb to the siren song of sugar, fat, and salt. We are fundamentally changing our lives - and the world around us.” (Alice Waters)
The performer's voice was very musical and dramatic, which I found extremely annoying. The theme of the book was repeated over and over and over again: Food companies use science and psychology to tune their products to maximize sales. It got old fast. The author spent lots of time on the symptoms of the problem of obesity but did not strike at the heart of the problem until the very end. The problem is not that food companies make all these unhealthy foods. The problem is that we buy the foods and eat them. The market will always follow demand. The real solution is education. Once people really understand the problems of eating processed food, they will demand better and more healthy solutions.
I listen to a variety of audio books constantly in car and gym. My reviews remind me what I’ve read & are hopefully helpful to you as well.
I'm tempted to give 5 stars because I can't find any faults with the book. But I reserve that rating for a book I really loved (for entertainment or educational value) and/or would reference again. I doubt I'll get much from re-reading this one later. That said, I recommend you read it to increase your awareness of what the food manufactures do (I'd say because they have to to make money by giving the consumer what they want - although I'm sure others believe they do it because they're all evil and greedy).
I liked that the author didn't bash the industry or preach not to eat this or that. He just laid out the information (presumably facts) and lets the reader decide what to do about it. I am now more aware and will likely make healthier choices as a result, but I'm not swearing off any foods or ingredients.
The author covers, obviously, Salt, Sugar, & Fat, but also goes into things like how the industry optimizes products based on consumers' tastes as well as cost considerations. He covers products like Dr. Pepper, Kool Aid, and Lunchables. He explains the government's role in the over production of milk and cheese (which then leads to the industry trying to find ways to get us to eat more of the fat... for example 33-35 lbs / yr of cheese for the average American. Mmmm Pizza!
The book seems well researched and covers a breadth of relevant topics, but it's not boring. There are some cool things I learned, like the "bliss point" which is the term where a manufacturer optimizes the sweetness range for consumers to make the product taste the best to most people while not over-spending on sugar.
Oh, one thing the author failed to convince me of is his occasional attempt to create an analogy between salt, sugar, and fat with drug addiction. I'm not saying a person can;t be addicted to food; I'm just saying the author's analogies and points did not provide evidence enough to me to support the claim that sugar is like cocaine and fat is like opium (or whatever it is he said exactly).
I do read food labels and I'm aware of how different foods impact hunger and satiety. I lost a bunch of weight by counting calories and became educated by doing so. I mainly look at fat, carbs (and sugar especially), and protein when I am watching what I eat, but I also have noticed how much salt is in food. It's shocking, given I don't feel like I'm a person who likes salty food. I NEVER add salt to anything, just because I never really liked it or felt anything needed it. BUT I also don't usually think a can of soup or whatever is over salty until I look at the label. It's sneaky and I think often goes under the radar since it has no calories. I also have good blood pressure, so I don't necessarily have a reason to look for it. That said, I know inherently that too much is bad and so I do look to limit my intake when possible. The thing is; it's VERY hard when eating any fast food or packaged/processed food.
And THAT IS THE BIG TAKE-AWAY from this book. Fast Food / Processed Food utilizes these ingredients in a strategic way to sell more and improve the food's shelf-life. So if you want to limit your salt/sugar/fat, then YOU MUST LIMIT YOUR INTAKE of Fast Food / Processed Food.
To close, I recommend the book. I also think that the food industry is where it is because they give the consumer what they are willing to pay for; taste, convenience, low-price. AND because most consumers aren't aware of the health implications. They don't even bother reading the nutrition labels and ingredients most of the time. I support consumer education and then eventually more consumers will "boycott" the "bad" foods and create a demand for "healthful" foods. Then the industry will put their R&D and marketing power behind better solutions. Manufacturers compete based on what's important to consumers.
I no longer consider myself innocent. As a health care professional, I considered my food choices and felt I was being cautious where I needed to be. What I did not know was how we have been manipulated in our choices. I have felt the frustration that I want to make my meals from scratch (a true child of the 50's) and have found it more difficult to do that over the years. Now I know why.
So now as I battle my own obesity and Type 2 diabetes, I have a better understanding of what not to buy and why. Thank you, Michael Moss.
Now truth be told, I love a good suspense tale. And Scott Brick is the best narrator for that genre. But I am not convinced he was the best choice for this book. He did read like it was a huge conspiracy (which it is) but it became a bit much. I got through it and still admire his talent, but ...
I love learning, teaching, and exploring!
Anybody reading this book would be encouraged to cut process foods from the diet. It outlines many examples of how salty, sugary, and fatty foods are often addictive and people are generally oblivious to their adverse health affects. The scariest part was the countless examples of foods the claim to be low fat or low salt, giving the impression that they are healthy, when in reality they are not.
Besides the relationship between our health and the food that we eat, the author also outlines marketing practices from the food industry. The bottom line is that the food industry is motivated by making money and will sell/market whatever the general population desires and will buy. In the end, the author pointed to education and individual choices as the key to driving change in an era of overeating and obesity.
This book is a great start to educating yourself on why you should avoid processed foods but it doesn't offer much in the way of what types of food should be consumed and the appropriate portion sizes. Nevertheless, it is insightful (although maybe a little bit repetitive) and was an enjoyable listen!
This was a very worthwhile book; I would give it 4.5 stars if I could. My only complaint is the lack of balance on some of the issues, exacerbated by the incredulous-sounding narrator. I know it was not, nor supposed to be unbiased science, but there was a tinge of exaggeration in both style and substance that, as a scientist, made me uneasy.
That being said, this deserves to be read by everyone who buys processed food. It helps to distinguish between what should be occasional, non-nutritious treats and those foods that are so artificial that they are hardly food. I often hear "everything in moderation" as an excuse to eat lots of processed foods - what is the harm in some Cheese Whiz now and then or a soda every day? - and this really puts these foods in an appropriate context for a healthy diet.
I liked this book a lot. I really enjoyed the information about the history of processed foods. Although I'm normally a Scott Brick fan, I have to agree with the other reviewer about his narration of this particular book.It didn't ruin the book for me, but I found it distracting.
This is a well thought out book ruined by overacting by the narrator. Just read the book. Note to Brick: This is not fiction, you don’t have to put emotion into every line. I have another book narrated by Scott Brick and it is nearly unlistenable. Less is more. Do yourself a favor, just get the printed version
Overacted. This is a nonfiction book. He does not need to emote with every line. It was distracting and took away from the interesting topic of the book
In sales and on the road a lot. Love SciFi, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, and the occasional Non-Fiction. Funny. Opinionated.
Well, that's not entirely true. I should start by saying that I don't read many non-fiction or health books. However, I saw the author on Jon Stewart or Colbert a few weeks ago and then I saw the book was selling well on Audible so I figures I'd give it a shot. To my surprise I found myself engaged and invested in the book, from examples of corporate greed to studies on human nature. The writing is phenomenal and comes at you like the good, hard-hitting journalism that it is. My initial criticism was the repetition of certain key words and phrases, however I came to feel that this served to hammer home points and familiarize the reader with certain industry vocabulary. I also developed a new way of looking at the nutrition information and ingredient list on my food. The narration keeps pace with the writing without sounding flat, and that is all you can really ask of a book like this. 5 stars does this book justice, it is not an inflated score. I would rank Salt, Sugar, Fat as one of my top books of 2013 without hesitation.
Interesting and informative - tho' depressing! I knew a lot of the generalities, but the specifics of what the food industry does - well, it's pretty disgusting. Sometimes I'm surprised that stuff like this ever surprises me ... but it still does. You KNOW soda, processed foods, etc. aren't healthy - here's HOW unhealthy they are and why ... and some of the industries disgusting little tricks to make us think they're selling us something healthy when they definitely aren't. Sigh ...
I think that my reaction of "Man, those guys are AWESOME! I wish I was in the food creating industry!" is not the one that the author was going for.
Great book, excellent narration, and man I have been drinking a lot of Pepsi since starting this book.
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