Nancy Kennedy's Reviews > The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite

The End of Overeating by David A. Kessler
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Feb 03, 12

Read in August, 2009

Dr. Kessler's book is a highly accessible account of how the food industry crafts its products to appeal to the insatiable American appetite for sugar, fat and salt. He explores in detail the biological responses to these stimuli and makes a great case for how we literally become food addicts.

The best parts of the book are Dr. Kessler's conversations with co-workers and well-known people such as Wolfgang Puck, the chef, and Robert De Niro, who gained sixty pounds for the movie Raging Bull. He colorfully records their reactions to addictive foods (M&Ms! Cookies! Milky Way bars!) and their powerlessness in the face of them. One caveat: Unless you're a scientist, you might find there are a few too many lab rats scurrying through the text.

I also enjoyed Dr. Kessler's detailed descriptions of the astoundingly unhealthy foods served up by popular chain restaurants and how they are intentionally prepared to impart the maximum dosage of fat, sugar and salt. Outback Steak's Bloomin' Onions, KFC chicken, Cinnabon, Panda Express Sweet 'n Sour Pork... we've all been there!

However, I still am disheartened to see how much space writers give over to the factor of genetics in obesity. "My sense is that eating behavior itself may not be genetically determined, but how we respond to stimuli probably is, at least to some degree," he writes. I think he is more convincing when he sticks to the thesis of his first chapter, "How much we eat predicts how much we weigh."

I don't care how hard people try to parse contributing factors to obesity, volume is the killer, at least if your volume doesn't favor calorie-light, water-rich and fiber-dense foods. I love the philosophy of the book The Volumetrics Eating Plan: Techniques and Recipes for Feeling Full on Fewer Calories and used it, in part, to lose 30 pounds. You can eat enough to satisfy your appetite without overeating. "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants," wrote Michael Pollen in In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto. It's the gospel truth.

Dr. Kessler's chapters on "food rehab" suggest concrete ways to control your environment and thought processes in order to eat sanely. I hope the title of his book is prophetic. I would love to see the end of overeating in this country.
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