So will you watch what you eat?
January 28, 2008 10:25pm CST
Food Doctoring is a Recipe for Overeating by Dr. David L. Katz "The modern American food supply is booby-trapped to make us fat. This is not theoretical. The proof is as nearby as any supermarket shelf. "The sodium content of Wheat Chex breakfast cereal per 100 calories is just shy of two-and-a-half times as much as that of Cape Cod potato chips. Yoo-Hoo Chocolate Drink has roughly 50 percent more sodium per 100 calories than Fritos Corn Chips. "Matched for calories, the sodium content of these products in descending order of abundance is breakfast cereal, chocolate drink, corn chips, potato chips. This is not because the corn and potato chips are surprisingly low in sodium, but because the other products are shockingly high. "Per 100 calories, Ragu super chunky mushroom pasta sauce has roughly 10 percent more added sugar than Smucker's Dove brand dark chocolate ice cream topping. This is not because the chocolate sauce is lower in sugar than one might think, but because the pasta sauce is remarkably high. "Since only someone with very peculiar taste buds would salt their breakfast cereal or pour packets of sugar over spaghetti, these food industry concoctions seem not only strange, but also ill-fated. "We don't actually buy pasta sauce that's sweeter than chocolate fudge sauce, do we? We do indeed. The products identified here are representative of general patterns on supermarket shelves. The typical American family enjoying the typical American diet buys and consumes breakfast cereal that's saltier than chips, pasta sauces and salad dressings as sweet as, or sweeter than, desserts. "We just don't realize we're doing it. Sugar-laden pasta sauce contains so much salt, the taste of sugar is effectively masked. So while on the basis of sugar content the pasta sauce is sweeter than the fudge sauce, it is not so on the basis of taste. "The pasta sauce contains 'stealth" sugar -- just as breakfast cereals or chocolate drinks contain 'stealth' salt. The sodium content of such products is effectively masked by the copious sugar content. Stimulating appetite "What does the food industry stand to gain from adding to its product flavorings we don't even realize are there? Appetite. And profits, of course. "Scientific literature going back nearly 30 years details the important influence of flavors on appetite far beyond the obvious fact that we eat what tastes good and avoid what does not. Detailing a technical-sounding phenomenon called 'sensory specific satiety,' innumerable studies in both animals and humans indicate that each distinct flavor category in our food (there are as many as seven widely recognized at present: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, savory, astringent, and umami) stimilate the brain's appetite center independently. We fill up not necessarily on total calories, but on a particular flavor. Pounds and profits The more flavors there are jumbled into a meal or a mouthful, the more appetite is engendered, and the more calories it takes to feel full. This appears to be true even when flavor additions are, in essence, subliminal, as in the case of salty cereal. "Considered in this context, the famous ad for Lays potato chips -- 'betcha can't eat just one' -- is more ominous than coy. The claim was literal, and perhaps by design. A recent expose in the Chicago Tribune suggests that food and tobacco industry scientists have long collaborated to study appetite, brain stimulation and mechanisms of addiction. "Calories are required to maintain body mass, so the bigger we are, the more we must eat. While much is made of the economic toll of epidemic obesity, it has a financial upside as well. As Michael S. Rosenwald pointed out recently in The Washington Post, pounds and profits rise in tandem for some interests in the American economy -- like the fast-food industry. The willful peddling of calories, and the active propagation of attendant obesity, are not far-fetched. "Which raises serious questions about responsibility. The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 554, the 'Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act,' in 2005. Sponsored by Rep. Ric Keller (R-Fla), and intended to prevent 'frivolous' lawsuits that hold food companies liable for an individual's obesity and related health claims, the bill contends that one 'cannot litigate personal choices and lifestyles.' But presumably when Keller wrote of lifestyle choices, he was thinking they were conscious. "But if they are not, the proverbial association between knowledge and power becomes precautionary. For the most part, neither the public nor even health-care professionals have any knowledge of sensory specific satiety, nor of how the modern food supply is engineered to exploit it. "Weight control is about calories in versus calories out. Portion control advice is as perennial as it has, to date, been futile. Advice from doctors about the dangers of overeating is clearly less powerful than the doctoring of processed foods that make overeating all but inevitable. "The power to resist and reform this doctored food supply begins with awareness of it. Now you know." Dr. David Katz is a professor at the Yale University School of Medicine and medical correspondent for ABC News. ...so do all that live in such times... but it is not for us to decide. We are given a certain amount of time on this earth. What we do with it.. is up to each of us.
• United States
2 Feb 08
I'm really surprised; however, its getting harder to eat better. I went to look at my breakfast cereal and the salt level was shocking. Its low in calories and fat, but the salt certainly won't help my blood pressure. I am going to check the rest of my shelf today and make more changes to how I am eating this week.