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The End of Overeating: Taking control of our insatiable appetite

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  7,492 Ratings  ·  1,138 Reviews
Uncover the truth behind our food addiction - and learn how to break the cycle
Many of us find ourselves powerless in front of a bag of crisps, a packet of biscuits, the last slice of pizza. Why is it that we simply can't say no?

In The End of Overeating David Kessler, the man who took on the tobacco industry, exposes how modern food manufacturers have hijacked the brains o
Paperback, 336 pages
Published April 1st 2010 by Penguin (first published April 28th 2009)
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Are you often distracted by thoughts of food? Do you have trouble controlling your eating? This book helps explain why so many people often overeat or obsess about food.

David Kessler, a pediatrician and former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, wrote that he also struggles with overeating and controlling his weight. Essentially, two-thirds of this book is about how the food industry is trying to kill us, I mean, make us overeat and get fat.

The food industry figured out that
This book is an experiment in how many times someone can repeat the same concept in different ways.

It sells itself as being a look inside the food industry and food culture, as well as the science of appetite and overeating, but most of the book focuses simply on the fact that popular restaurants and snack food these days layer fat, sugar, or salt together.

The author also has this idea that being overweight is pretty much solely a result of something he calls hypereating-- just eating snacks rep
Feb 02, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
What a waste of space and good paper this book is! The author takes information enough to fill MAYBE one page and repeats it over and over and over and over again for three hundred pages. There an unbelievable amount of meaningless, useless fluff in the text. Almost worse than this is how not a single chapter is longer than 3 pages. My IQ scrore has halved from reading this.

FYI, here's every bit of real material in the book:

1. If you eat foods containing lots of salt, fat and sugar, your brain
AJ LeBlanc
Nov 04, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, food
I am really disappointed with this book.

It starts off promising: foods that have a lot of sugar, fat, and salt make us want to keep eating, especially foods with even more sugar, fat, and salt. To add to this fun, some people are wired to overeat while others are able to stop. If you're wired to overeat, it doesn't matter if you're overweight or not - some people have figured out how to compensate and stay at a healthy weight while others are not able to do so and become obese.

And then Kessler
Jeremy Preacher
The first half of the book is pure food porn. Detailed, multisensory descriptions of super-unhealthy menu items from chain restaurants or snack foods - it's just about perfectly designed to send you running to the refrigerator. It's not a huge surprise to discover that the addictive qualities of this kind of food are well-known to people in the restaurant and snack-food industries, and even less a surprise to be told they are, in fact, addictive. So that part is really only good for salivating o ...more
May 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone

I remember Dr, Kessler’s name from his stints in the administrations of George the Elder Bush and Bill Clinton. After leaving the US Food and Drug Administration, I’m not sure I knew what he was doing or where. In fact, he was researching, living, and writing this book, The End of Overeating.

Since I know that I’m going to use words that can be construed as puns, bon mots, and perhaps even as double entendres, let me apologize to one and all. This is a serious subject that deserves serious consid
Loy Machedo
Sep 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loy Machedo’s Book Review – The End of Over-eating by David A. Kessler

Ever since I have been going through the Battle of the Bulge I have literally struggled to lose weight. I soon realized that the biggest challenges I had was not exercise. Rather my inability to stay away from Food. The Aroma of Cinnabon, the thought of a Mouth Watering entre from Pizza Hut, the Steaming Delicious Burgers from Burger King and the Tender Chicken of KFC would throw my will-power and self-control out of the windo
May 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've always wondered why despite the successes I've had in just about every aspect of my life, I cannot control my eating. I now think I have a clue as to why this is as a result of reading this book. The first part of the book is a little dense since he talks about the principles of neuroscience and how people who overeat have a certain wiring in their brain that reinforces their overeating. The good news is, it's possible to "rewire" your brain so the typical, unhealthy reactions you have tha ...more
Oct 14, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
This book is SO mis-titled. A more accurate title would be "The History of Overeating: How and Why the American Appetite Became Insatiable". If you are looking for information about the reasons for the obesity epidmic there is a lot of information here about how certain food characteristics promote overeating, how overeating becomes habitual or addictive, and why food companies tend to promote hypereating in their product offerings and marketing, you will find all that here. If you are looking f ...more
Oct 22, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Apparently food tastes good because of the sugar, salt and/or fat in it. Really!? In addition, the evil food industry manipulates the amounts of sugar, salt and/or fat in their food to make it taste better! Oh the humanity! Forget who was or was not on the grassy knoll in Dallas; here is the Great American Conspiracy.

For a much better treatment of the horrific flaws in the american diet and the malevolence of the food industry read Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation and Micheal Pollan's In Defens
Jan 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
This book has changed the way I will look at food forever. In an attempt to lead a healthier life and eat cleaner this book has made a huge impact on my views of advertising, marketing, and food production. The author has hammered into my head that almost everything processed is layered with sugar, fat, and salt. These tempting treats make us want more sugar, fat, and salt. No wonder American's are so fat and unhealth! We spend trillions of dollars on health care and what we really need to do is ...more
I started reading this book in tandem with my viewing of the HBO documentary miniseries, The Weight of the Nation. The two dovetail nicely - covering many of the same topics, but reinforcing, not repeating what you already learned.

The book begins strong, with the author's personal stories and observations, but also from case studies, and interviews with restaurant industry professionals. The holy trinity of the regular American diet - sugar, salt, and fat - are covered extensively. The author h
Lorin Kleinman
Jul 08, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fascinating account of the measures that the food industry takes--both in marketing and in its attempts to load food with as much sugar, fat and salt as possible--to make its often very unhealthy products irresistable to consumers, and how it thereby has helped usher in the epidemic of obesity in the U.S.

Kessler, a former FDA chief best known for his anti-tobacco efforts, struggled for most of his life with a need to eat more that was good for him, a need he shares with an increasing p
Nov 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is no question about David Kessler’s strong sense of purpose in his book The End of Overeating. He wants you to know what commercial food preparers do to make you want their food even when you are not hungry, and he is going to make sure you get the message. Even if he has to say it a very large number of times.

And that’s the primary problem I had with this book. I listened to it as an audiobook, which can be quite a different experience, so I’ll disclose that to begin with. The book focus
Jun 09, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009, knowledge-nf
The first two parts were pretty tedious. The first part is called "Sugar, Fat, Salt" and reiterates that this combination of things is what we prefer to eat. The second part "The Food Industry" explains that the food industry knows that we like sugar, fat, & salt and adds as much as possible to their foods so we will crave them.

Now, I just explained in two sentences what it took the author two sections, 26 chapters, and 140 pages to say.

Part 3 introduced the concept of conditioned hypereati
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
The title is a pipe dream, but I suspect it was chosen by someone other than the author.

My appreciation of this book varied depending on the section, but taken as a whole it has a lot of value.
The first part, "Sugar, Fat, Salt" is five-star material. Those of you who don't normally read nonfiction should at least read this section. It explains the brain science showing why "hyperpalatable" foods are irresistible to many people, and how these foods lead to uncontrolled eating. Fascinating stuff
Jul 05, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I heard the author in an interview on NPR and made a mental note to check out the book. It seemed like an interesting take on "dieting." The author is a former commisioner for the FDA, and also a pediatrician, and started researching this book because he grew alarmed at the increase in clinically obese children that he saw. This book talks about food, the development of the food industry, and habits: the neural wiring of habits, how habit-forming these "hyper-palatable" foods are, and how diffic ...more
Aug 10, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not known for my girth, but I found this book to have a powerful effect on me. Although it is boringly written, it delivers a delicious helping of muckraking journalism against food companies. I found that the same lessons about how to avoid compulsive eating apply to compulsive internet surfing, etc. -- rather than saying a "I should eat less" or "surf the web less," you give yourself rules to follow, and you learn to think of a plate of French Fries as disgusting. Wow, that just sounds lik ...more
Audrey Ferrie
This is not a self-help book, nor is a diet book. I found the title misleading when I picked it up at the local branch of my library. Instead it is a book that about public health, the so-called obesity epidemic, and the science of human appetite. Written by a doctor who self-describes as fat, this title explores why a good majority of us can't stop eating fat, sugar, and salt. The premise, thoroughly explained scientific studies is that for some people it's not a matter of willpower, that these ...more
Jun 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Written by an MD who is a former FDA commissioner, this is not really a "diet book" per se. It's not going to tell you to just eat grapefruit, or protein, or low-fat. I've thought to myself many times in my life that my addiction to food (and I don't think that's too strong a word) is a lot like that to a drug. At least with drugs, I could just abstain. But you HAVE to eat! This book describes how the combination of sugar, fat and salt are layered together in foods that you wouldn't even think o ...more
Nov 12, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author is a former FDA commissioner, dean of Yale medical school, and currently a pediatrician. So he is extremely well informed and yet so down-to-earth that he commiserates with all of us who are tempted by sweet and salty junk foods, convenience foods, and fast foods. What I really liked about this book is that the author really investigates the chemical reasons behind the temptations and shows the reader that it's not completely our fault we tend to overeat the wrong kinds of food. The j ...more
This NY Times bestseller has been featured on several television and radio shows, partly because it is written by Dr. David Kessler, the former head of the Food and Drug Administration. Dr. Kessler spends a huge portion of the book discussing how food manufacturers and restaurants add fat, sugar and salt to make it more palatable and how our body reacts to these ingredients. He even dedicates whole chapters to chains like Cinnabon and goes over many of the tastier items on the Chili's menu. He d ...more
Oct 13, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
pretty good description and analysis of changes in eating patterns in the US, aided and abetted by food/restaurant industry, toward "conditioned hypereating", resulting in high rates of overweight and obesity.

No real explanation for individual differences in this phenomenon, gives short shrift to relevance of exercise in weight maintenance/reduction, and advocates habit reversal [one of his go-to interview sources in the behavior change section is a researcher who mainly focuses on trichotillom
Oct 19, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
This book probably only deserves two stars, but the ending was stronger than the beginning and I found myself liking the author. Kessler knows what he's talking about, but sometimes he simplifies the science a bit too much for the audience and does not fully back up his conclusions and implications.

In general, he seems to advocate (and these are my words and not his) something like a South Beach diet - lean proteins, whole grains, fruits and veg. At times it seems Kessler doth protest too much
Meghan McInerny
I think the title of this book is slightly misleading. What it sounds like is a self-help book; what it is is an in-depth examination of the internal and external forces that cause many people to overeat.

It's extremely detailed, and provides tons of references to scientific research. There are a few places where it gets a bit too detailed, but overall I really enjoyed the book. The author outlines how restaurants and the food industry have capitalized on our biological urges for combinations of
Nov 13, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, 2012
This one was more academic than self-help. I read it because I've been having having trouble fighting off the siren song of sugar, and someone recommended it highly on her blog.

It was written at what I would describe as magazine level, (although about the last quarter is detailed end notes that I hadn't realized were there, or I might have been reading them).

The book does an excellent breakdown of how the restaurant industry tries to hyper-stimulate appetite and how for some people willpower j
Nov 07, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I worried that this would be more of the same (Fast Food Nation, Omnivore’s Dilemma, In Defense of Food, etc.) but Kessler takes a new approach, focusing less on the evils of the food industry (although they’re in there) and more on the behaviors that drive overeating. Kessler identifies “conditioned hypereating” in which people habitually overeat in a manner that leads to more overeating and makes it harder and harder to end the behavior. In this group of people he also identifies obsessive tho ...more
Dec 30, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
If you know very little about food and nutrition, sure read this. But if you're already familiar with the politics of our food, with Michael Pollen, with the ever increasing number of different food movements and diets (local-food, slow-food, blood type diet, atkins diet) etc., with the manufacturing of our food and farms, then you're probably already familiar with everything that's in this book. Granted, maybe if I had read this when it first came out (2009), I would have gotten more from it, b ...more
Dec 23, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A great deal of humbug dressed up in scientific language.

You're fat because you eat too much high-calorie food, and you keep doing it because you've formed a bad habit of it. Yes, but now I've given this syndrome the name "conditioned hypereating!" Oh, and the remedy for it is to stop eating those foods and retrain yourself to quit thinking about them all the time. See, I've found a treatment for the syndrome! And just in case you're in doubt about my numerous leaps over the normal steps of log
Carolyn Stein
Jun 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: diet, food
One of the very best books I've read in the last few years. Kessler explains how hyper-palatable foods work (and why we can't stop eating them). He uses the latest research from neuroscience and science from other fields to describe the effect that layered salt, fat, and sugars have on our brains.

The book changed how I look at food and myself. As a former FDA commissioner and a doctor Kessler was well-placed to connect with powerful individuals in the food industry as well as scientists and he
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Madison Mega-Mara...: #55 The End of Overeating by David A. Kessler 1 2 May 10, 2015 07:18PM  
Great video from author, David A. Kessler, M.D. 1 30 May 05, 2009 09:04AM  
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  • Rethinking Thin: The New Science of Weight Loss--and the Myths and Realities of Dieting
  • Paradox of Plenty: A Social History of Eating in Modern America (California Studies in Food and Culture, 8)
  • Good Calories, Bad Calories: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom on Diet, Weight Control, and Disease
  • Slow Food Nation: Why Our Food Should Be Good, Clean, and Fair
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(David Kessler is also the name of another author, a hospice expert who worked with Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, although David A. Kessler did co-author a book on elder care.)

David Aaron Kessler is an American pediatrician, lawyer, author, and administrator (both academic and governmental). He was the Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from November 8, 1990 to February 28, 1997, and
More about David A. Kessler...
“We've gone through some kind of a metamorphosis over the years. We've made food very easy to get calories from." He talked about the greater degree to which we refine foods now; an example is how we mill away the bran from brown rice and whole wheat flour. As a result the food is "light, it's white, it's very easy to swallow. It doesn't obstruct you in any way. It's easy to get a lot of calories without a lot of chewing."
Because this kind of food disappears down our throats so quickly after the first bite, it readily overrides the body's signals that should tell us "I'm full.”
More quotes…