Sunday, March 31, 2013

Salt Sugar Fat by Michael Moss

book cover
Salt Sugar Fat:
How the Food Giants Hooked Us
by Michael Moss

ISBN-13: 9781400069804
Hardcover: 480 pages
Publisher: Random House
Released: February 26, 2013

Source: eBook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
From a Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative reporter at The New York Times comes the explosive story of the rise of the processed food industry and its link to the emerging obesity epidemic. Michael Moss reveals how companies use salt, sugar, and fat to addict us and, more important, how we can fight back.

Every year, the average American eats thirty-three pounds of cheese (triple what we ate in 1970) and seventy pounds of sugar (about twenty-two teaspoons a day). We ingest 8,500 milligrams of salt a day, double the recommended amount, and almost none of that comes from the shakers on our table. It comes from processed food. It’s no wonder, then, that one in three adults, and one in five kids, is clinically obese.

In Salt Sugar Fat, Michael Moss shows how we got here. Featuring examples from some of the most recognizable (and profitable) companies and brands of the last half century--including Kraft, Coca-Cola, Lunchables, Kellogg, NestlĂ©, Oreos, Cargill, Capri Sun, and many more--Moss’s narrative is grounded in meticulous, often eye-opening research.

Moss takes us inside the labs where food scientists use cutting-edge technology to calculate the “bliss point” of sugary beverages or enhance the “mouthfeel” of fat by manipulating its chemical structure. He unearths marketing campaigns designed to redirect concerns about the health risks of their products: Dial back on one ingredient, pump up the other two, and tout the new line as “fat-free” or “low-salt.” You will never look at a nutrition label the same way again.

My Review:
Salt Sugar Fat is a food history of how processed food is made and marketed. It included interviews with the people that developed these products and information on the science behind processed food. The book is highly readable, and I found it extremely interesting.

The overall focus of the three main sections was sugar, fat, and salt. Within each section, we learned about studies done on how these ingredients effect us, on what forms we most enjoy consuming, on consumption patterns (what is our "bliss point" for sugar, and do we consume more fat if the food doesn't look fatty), and on how this has effect the nation's health. We learned how various products were first developed and the marketing strategies that lead to the success of instant pudding, processed cheese, Coca-Cola, Kool-Aid, Lunchables, and many other convenience foods.

I thought I was a good food label reader, but I learned that some healthy-sounding ingredients actually aren't--they're simply used to trick health-conscious consumers into buying their product. I learned that the food companies will slowly change the ingredients in a product without telling people, so you need to read the labels of foods that you buy regularly.

There's a lot of useful and enlightening information in this book, and I'd highly recommend it.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.


Dorothy Borders said...

This book sounds very interesting. It seems that it contains very useful information that would help us be smarter consumers.

Debbie said...

Hi, Dorothy. Thanks for taking the time to comment. Yes: I considered myself a pretty savvy shopper before reading this book, and yet I learned even more!

Carole said...

Debbie, I need to read this one. Thanks for linking up to BYL. Cheers

Debbie said...

Glad I linked it in, then! Thanks for notifying me of the BYL link-ups.