Anyone who has ever walked through a grocery store in America can get a glimpse of the nation’s relationship with food–most of the aisles are full of endless rows of chips, cookies and soda. It turns out there’s a science behind our cravings for tasty snacks like Doritos and Oreos, something that food companies have been aware of for decades and are using to get us hooked to the good stuff, the junk food.
On Friday, New York Times reporter Michael Moss joined the NOW with Alex Wagner panel to discuss his new book, “Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us,” which puts a spotlight on the efforts of food companies over the years to scientifically manipulate their products behind laboratory walls to give Americans maximum taste-bud happiness.
But there is a high price to pay for taste-bud happiness: obesity. Today, one in three Americans and nearly one in five children are clinically obese.
In a cover story last month in the New York Times magazine, Moss wrote:
“The public and the food companies have known for decades now—or at the very least since this meeting—that sugary, salty, fatty foods are not good for us in the quantities that we consume them. So why are the diabetes and obesity and hypertension numbers still spiraling out of control? It’s not just a matter of poor willpower on the part of the consumer and a give-the-people-what-they-want attitude on the part of the food manufacturers. What I found, over four years of research and reporting, was a conscious effort—taking place in labs and marketing meetings and grocery-store aisles—to get people hooked on foods that are convenient and inexpensive.”
Is it possible for America to change course on junk food, or has the damage already been done?