in the robin's beak
Washington Post: "Sweet, salty and fatty foods -- A new form of mind control?" (by Lyndsay Layton)
"Former FDA commissioner David Kessler warns in a new book that those substances can change brain chemistry enough to make people overeat.
"He went in the middle of the night, long after the last employee had locked up the Chili's Grill & Bar. He'd steer his car around back, check to make sure no one was around and then quietly approach the dumpster...
"The high-octane career path of David Kessler, the Harvard-trained doctor, lawyer, medical school dean and former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had come to this: nocturnal dumpster diving. It took many of these forays until Kessler emerged with his prize: ingredient labels affixed to empty cardboard boxes that spelled out the fats, salt and sugar used to make the Southwestern Eggrolls, Boneless Shanghai Wings and other dishes served by the nation's second-largest restaurant chain.
"Kessler was on a mission to understand a problem that has vexed him since childhood: why he can't resist certain foods….
"His resulting theory, described in his new book, "The End of Overeating," is startling: Foods high in fat, salt and sugar alter the brain's chemistry in ways that compel people to overeat. "Much of the scientific research around overeating has been physiology -- what's going on in our body," he said. 'The real question is what's going on in our brain.'….
"Instead of satisfying hunger, the salt-fat-sugar combination will stimulate that diner's brain to crave more, he said. And the food industry manipulates this neurological response, designing foods to induce people to eat more than they should or even want, Kessler found."
....Mind control through highly palatable foods? Perhaps, fast food chains and restaurants are perpetrating “conditioned overeating”, but shouldn’t we be looking at ourselves in the mirror?
Kessler suggests that “the key to stopping the cycle [of overeating] is to rewire the brain’s response to food.” This suggestion, however, makes it seem like every one of us behaves completely out of habit and conditioning. On the contrary, Kessler himself noted that about 15 percent of the population appears unaffected by the syndrome of “conditioned overeating” and that “more research is needed to understand what makes them immune.”
Would such research go into free will and self-control? Or the role of family upbringing in nurturing good (or bad) eating habits (indeed, a form of brain-wiring itself)? We certainly can’t discount these variables.
Meanwhile, we could increase the amount and frequency of information available to people about healthy and unhealthy foods to enable them to make informed choices. Similar to the efforts to curb cigarette smoking….