Living Maintenance - The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food - NYT 2/20/2013

Shannon in ATL
02-20-2013, 01:17 PM
The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food (

I just read this article (all 14 pages of it) and it fascinated me.

It talks about the development of high sugar, high salt, sensory addictive junk foods. Looks at the marketing swing from parents to kids, and things like making snacks appear healthier which then results in us eating more of them.

I don't know it if is posted out in the main forum, but figured I'd put it up here for discussion. :)

As I work in the food industry it speaks to me on a lot of levels.

02-20-2013, 02:35 PM
Thanks, Shannon, for posting that link. I read all 14 pages, also. It certainly is fascinating as you say. It gives one a lot to thnk about.

02-20-2013, 04:34 PM
Absolutely fascinating. I mean, they are things I always sort of thought I knew or assumed, but it is really impressive how these companies design their products.

To be perfectly clear, I know that each and every bite I have taken since I was like 2 years old was a choice of mine. But it is amazing at how unlevel the playing field is.

These companies have very very smart people---chemists, psychologists, etc.--working very very hard to do whatever they need to do to make a profit. That's the way our country works. I get it. But it really drives home a few points to me.

"Bet you can't eat just one." We all know the Lay's potato chip motto. And yet everything from the package to the size of the chip to the amount of oil and salt is designed to appeal to our instincts to get us to eat more than one. We have emotional and physical buttons that are being played by these companies so they can make a profit.

Yeah, that's life.
Yeah, that's the American way.
Yeah, we are free people who make our own decisions.

Articles like this will help all of us open our eyes to make better decisions. Awareness of the "science" behind these foods and how our bodies respond will help us understand ourselves better and might--just might--enable us to make better choices.

At the moment, we (a general 'we') are destroying ourselves.

Is there any room in any of our lives or diets for processed food? The industry is insidious and targeting kids. But, hey, it's a free country. So we need to arm ourselves with knowledge. Education is essential.

Thanks for posting this, Shannon. Food for thought.

Shannon in ATL
02-20-2013, 04:50 PM
Exactly, midwife. These industries have money and influence on their side, so can spend millions of dollars finding what brings us back to these things. We who are here I think know that the processed foods are bad for us, yet we buy them.

Not everyone knows. We need to educate ourselves and other people to the risks involved with the processed and the packaged and the fast and the convenient. Before we do destroy ourselves.

I believe that a lot of the rise in medical conditions and cancers in recent years traces back to the rise of the additives and preservatives and processed foods. I have no proof, just a feeling I have. It could also be from better diagnostic techniques, but I can't help but think that what we are eating is slowly killing us.

02-20-2013, 05:15 PM
So fascinating! Didn't mean to cross-post, Shannon - I hadn't seen that you'd already put this here!

Shannon in ATL
02-20-2013, 05:34 PM
Oh, I didn't even see the other post. Oops. :)

02-20-2013, 06:04 PM
Hi Shannon- thanks for posting the link , I read it.
I am a Junk Food Lover! Even though I have not had it for Quite a longtime.
I still remember the feeling of kicking back. My Regular Coke !and Nirvana was a fountain Coke extra fizzle and I would go AHHH!
There was not a Junk Food I didn't like but I ate it through out childhood and was always the skinny kid with Hallow legs as the use to say .
I think the processed foods of the past is not the same as now!
Even though I have lost soo much weight now, I still can think about my favorite foods and it evokes a positive feeling in my brain! Probably stimulating my Dopamine receptors!
I think as responsible adults we have to limit what are families and we are ingesting.
I would like full disclosure of everything that is in food we are consuming so that I can make an informed decision.
Thanks so much,Roo:carrot::carrot::carrot:

02-21-2013, 04:56 PM
I haven't read the article yet, but I definitely will. It's not just the processed food either ... the more I learn about GMOs and the corporate shills who are ramming this stuff through the approval processes (or getting the approval processes gutted), the more I lose faith that anybody is looking out for anything but where their next buck is coming from. It shouldn't be this hard to find something to eat, to foster good health, and to become an educated citizen.

02-22-2013, 02:45 PM
Thanks for the link. Sure opens your eyes to more about what we eat--and what we should avoid.

Yep. Corporate America. It's all about the bottom line.

03-03-2013, 10:26 PM
In Europe, many countries are trying food taxation as a way to counteract the addictive potential and high health costs of junk food, much the same way we've taxed cigarettes and alcohol. So far, they've had limited success (people and companies find ways to "outsmart" the taxes, which are levied very specifically and thus easy to avoid, kind of like buying 2 16-oz Cokes when you can't buy a 32-oz in NYC). It seems to me that we could do the same, and also insist that crappy food have warning labels on it: "may increase your risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke" comes to mind, or even "one serving of this product provides your entire recommended daily allowance for sodium."

I know, I know, the food lobby is way too powerful. was the cigarette lobby. It took a couple of decades, a health catastrophe and a media blitz to get them on the run, but U.S. smoking rates are now the envy of the world. We CAN make a difference if we protest loudly enough.

03-04-2013, 06:45 AM
For me, part of the answer was to limit how many "steps away from the farm" the food is. I also look at packages and try to buy things with shorter ingredient lists. I can't afford to buy organic but I will eat something fresh, like an apple, rather than processed "apple chips".

DH and I have also come up with alternatives to "quick meals" like frozen pizza. We buy a prebaked crust and always keep sliced/diced pizza veggies and grated cheese handy. Putting together the pizza takes 5 minutes now and it bakes for less time than the frozen one.

But going out is always a problem. In Canada we are prohibited from bringing our own snacks into movie theatres. The choices there are pretty bad. I would like for them to offer a no salt popcorn option and things like G2 drinks, as well as the pop.

Eating well shouldn't have to be such a challenge. We all lead very busy lives and shortcuts are welcome. But not at the expense of my health.

Dagmar :dizzy:

03-05-2013, 12:10 AM
I have been struggling with this article on another food oriented forum and my bottom line is that it just speaks to the bizarre nature of the food companies and how much freaking money they make off of consumers. All these studies, clandestine meeting and the like. Someone with an eating disorder does not have brand loyalty! It is quantity over quality. As to "making" us want to want to eat the junk - yes it is their business and yes we fall into it. The au courant buzz word is umami - that flavor (eg MSG) and most of this stuff has it. I doubt the elaborate crunch factor analysis makes any difference to most people (esp after a few beers). I hope they keep spending money for nothing. the stuff will be bought anyway. Those of us who choose to eat more healthily and intelligently can just laugh.