How the Food Biz Strives to Keep Us Hooked

by | Jun 24, 2021 | Diet & nutrition

Weight isn’t just about “calories in, calories out.”

As we’ve noted before, a range of factors can affect your weight – from what you eat and how you eat it to hormonal imbalances, sleep debt, and the health of your microbiome. This is why personalized approaches to weight loss, such as those Dr. Joe maps out for his patients here in our West Los Angeles clinic, tend to be more effective over the long run.

When you understand the root causes of a problem, you can address them instead of just managing symptoms. This is the foundation of what’s known as functional medicine.

junk food raining into a person's mouthThat said, dietary and nutritional adjustments are an important part of the process, especially considering how disordered our eating has become. The food biz has played more than a minor role in this. Their goal isn’t nutrition, after all, but ever-increasing profits. That requires getting us to buy more and more.

So it’s made an art out of exploiting our biological instincts and metabolic processes, not to mention our emotions. They engineer their products to be as irresistible as possible. They continually refine their marketing to stoke our desire for what they have to sell.

And when we catch on to what they’re doing, they simply recalibrate their approach.

Journalist Michael Moss explored these issues brilliantly in his previous book, Salt Sugar Fat, and has since taken it a step further in his latest, Hooked: Food, Free Will, and How the Food Giants Exploit Our Addictions. Here, he explores more deeply how processed foods hack our bodies and minds to keep us wanting more – and how the food companies continue to try to evade responsibility for this, ala Big Tobacco. He makes a compelling case against the industry, deeply rooted in solid science.

While shifting away from hyper-processed products to meals made from whole foods cooked at home can be challenging for any number of reasons – time, energy, creativity, know-how – such actions by the food industry can make it even harder. Yet knowing their MO can make it easier to find the power to resist them and return to eating in the way that served us so well for many thousands of years.

For a taste (pun completely intended) of what Moss discovered in the journey of writing this book, check out this conversation he recently had with Charles Platkin, Director of Hunter College NYC’s Food Policy Center:


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