Jansing & Co. , 4/8/13, 10:51 AM ET

Hooked on processed foods

New York Times Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Michael Moss, author of "Salt Sugar Fat" discusses how the food giants search for the perfect amount of salt,...

How we get hooked to the ‘holy trinity’ of salt, sugar, and fat

Updated

Don’t beat yourself up the next time you give in to the urge to eat a bag of potato chips or cookies. The processed food industry has spent decades and billions of dollars coming up with the perfect combination of sugar, salt and fat to get you hooked and keep you coming back for more, according to Michael Moss’ new book, Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us.

“This is a holy trinity for the processed food industry. Always those three in optimum amounts, heaps, really,” Moss, a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist, said on Jansing & Co. Monday.

Moss sifted through thousands of internal industry documents to learn how the processed food industry–with $1 trillion a year in sales–tries to come up with foods that strike the perfect balance of salt, sugar, and fat, which it calls the “bliss point.”

Moss explained there’s a reason why it’s almost impossible to eat just one potato chip.

“They’ve got the salt, which the industry calls the flavor burst, goes right you to your pleasure center of the brain and says, ‘Eat more.’ They’re loaded with fat. That also delivers what they call the ‘mouthfeel’, which is an incredible allure. And then they’re actually loaded with sugar,” said Moss. “The potato starch itself starts turning into sugar the instant it hits your tongue.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 35.7% of all American adults are obese. The cost to treat obesity-related problems is approaching $200 million a year.

Moss has some simple, but often difficult advice when it comes to avoiding processed food.

“You gotta really work hard at it–better shopping techniques, resist the spontaneity and eat healthier,” he said.

How we get hooked to the 'holy trinity' of salt, sugar, and fat

Updated