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)
I love listening to books when cycling, paddleboarding, etc but I press pause when I need to concentrate. Its safer & I don't lose the plot!
‘Salt, Sugar, Fat' is a depressing expose of the processed food industry. It’s a fairly detailed analysis of how the industry has crammed more and more of these three ingredients into food, and the resulting havoc wrought on the health of Americans. Dramatically increasing rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and stroke have arisen as the population has become increasingly dependent on fast, cheap, convenient, tasty food and drink containing frightening amounts of these eponymous ingredients, as well as a whole load of other chemicals to flavour, colour and preserve the food and increase its shelf-life. The same problem has now been inflicted on other, poorer, nations, such as Mexico as the corporate giants have colonised other markets in their relentless pursuit of greater profits.
Over time, some sections of the public have become more aware of the health hazards associated with these foods, but it hasn’t really reduced the scale of the problem. Attempts to introduce government regulation in the US have largely been scuppered by the lobbyists representing the powerful food and agriculture industries. There has been some effort on the part of the food corporations to reduce the quantities of salt, sugar and fat in their products, but these reductions have been fairly minor, token cuts and haven’t reduced the scale of the problem. Many people have cravings for these powerfully tempting products and can’t cut back effectively, and often don’t have the time, awareness or motivation to make radical changes to their lifestyles. Advertising and marketing campaigns are cleverly designed to make processed food seem irresistible, and of course advertisers are more likely to emphasize health benefits than to warn of the dangers of eating these products.
The World has surely got itself into a sorry mess when people are encouraged to oversize their drink portions so that they are ingesting 44 teaspoons of sugar in their giant cup of fizzy soda, while people in other countries starve to death in droves. The companies defend themselves by saying that no one is being forced to consume their products. It’s a free market and they are only selling what people want. But surely, for the sake of the health of everyone, there should be a massive education campaign telling people how they are potentially harming themselves by eating fast food. There should be limits on the amounts of salt, sugar and fat that can be included in processed foods, as there are in other countries. Surely enough is enough?
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
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!
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 ...
The amount of information presented is limited. I found the book slow and the information repetitive. Although there is some new information on BIG FOOD, I was disappointed. The facts could have been revealed in a magazine article. The author is a reporter and this is a report stretched out.... Good facts....that's it.
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.
This was pretty repetitive overall. A lot of ideas were mentioned over and over again. The saving grace of the book was the investigative journalism. There is some interesting information about processed food companies here but you have to get through the fluff.
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