From the book Salt, Sugar Fat by Michael Moss
1. Cheese Makes you Fat.
Cheese. Big bricks of cheddar, stringy lengths of mozzarella, and rotund circles of Brie, these are a few of my favorite things.
There’s not much debate: cheese is delicious. I eat cheese almost daily, both on it’s own and in other foods. But I had not realized how the big food companies have manipulated the public in a very intentional way to make us consume more, with the end result that North Americans are the fattest people in the world (US and Mexico rank one and two respectively).
Cheese is one of the main culprits in America’s expanding waistline. Since 1970, American consumption of cheese has grown by 3 pounds per year. It delivers an additional 3,100 grams of saturated fat. It is one of the biggest reasons that Americans eat more than 50% more than the recommended maximum fat allowance.
What’s more, according to Moss this is no accident. Cheese is woven into our diets in a very intentional, insidious way by the big food companies, particularly Kraft (owned by Phillip Morris). It’s origins date back to a program designed by the federal government to absorb thousands of pounds of stockpiled dairy. Food companies have put their advertising might to make sure that one of the fattiest foods on the market gets woven into virtually everything we eat.
2. Fat: You never knew what hit you
Add sugar to a food and it tastes delicious. Keep adding it and it gets even more delicious. But hit a certain threshold and that same food loses its allure. You have passed the “bliss point” and started moving down an inverted U. The same is true for salt. But fat does not share this attribute. Moss cites experiments that show the more fat you add, the better the food tastes. The “mouthfeel” improves and the body does not seem to register the calorie load it has just absorbed.
What’s more, according to Moss, adding sugar to fatty foods only increases their allure- apparently, it’s is like having Robin suddenly swoop in with Batman. The brain only registers sheer joy, while scale registers the associated, additional pounds.
3. More Calories, More Profit
Companies can make more money by selling more of a product or service. Food companies have largely thrown out any other business logic. It is not the company’s job to monitor the health of the products they sell, only to sell more of it. Sugar, fat and salt is what the public craves. They have lead to iconic products: the Oreo, Pizza Pockets, and Apple Jacks. They have even resulted in new categories of foods, such as “lunchables”
The issue is that food is not an optional, or discretionary product: it’s the life-force we need to maintain our existence. Moreover, the types of food peddled by the major food companies- and thus what is available at your local supermarket- has a major impact on the quality of life.
While some of the food companies have attempted to clean up their act, they too are addicted to cheap, convenient food laden with sugar, salt and fat. They stay for the big profits, us for the convenience, addictive taste and low price. But in the end their profits come at our cost- we pay with the highest obesity rates in human history and a burdened health care system that ultimately picks up the tab.