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Healthcare vs. Processed Food Industry

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, March 13, 2013

Not surprisingly, what Moss finds is that processed food giants such as Kraft, General Mills, and Coca-Cola are motivated by money. The more sugar, salt, and fat-laden junk foods they get us to shove down our pie holes, the more money they make. It really is just that simple.

In so many respects, especially in their marketing to children, the processed food industry has taken a page from Big Tobacco's playbook. These companies are frighteningly good at what they do. Moss writes about the armies of food scientists and engineers finding the "sensory-specific satiety" or "bliss point" that prompts consumers to eat an entire bag of potato chips.

Moss writes: "The biggest hits—be they Coca-Cola or Doritos—owe their success to complex formulas that pique the taste buds enough to be alluring but don't have a distinct, overriding single flavor that tells the brain to stop eating."

To find the "bliss point" of vanilla- and cherry-flavored versions of Dr. Pepper, for example, Moss wrote that Cadbury Schweppes created 61 distinct formulas and conducted 3,904 tastings in Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago, and Philadelphia. The final 135-page report talked about things like "mouth feel" and other sensations that would determine the success or failure of the soda.

If you're an advocate for wellness, this is what you are up against.

In this corner, we have overworked physicians, nutritionists, and other providers who might consult with patients a handful of times each year and scrawl out diet plans or exercise regimens as part of some vaguely defined wellness initiative.

In the far corner, we have a processed food industry which spends millions of dollars to bombard us every hour of every day with advertising urging us into supermarkets to buy their foods of dubious nutritional value.

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3 comments on "Healthcare vs. Processed Food Industry"


mperron (3/14/2013 at 9:37 AM)
Great story and comments. Are there scientists working with companies such as Coca Cola and Doritos that fit our taste bud desires but in a healthy way? Can't they reformulate Doritos, for example, to keep the great taste and crunch without sacrificing nutrition? Is there a movement or a push for this somewhere?

Bruce E. Woych (3/13/2013 at 5:13 PM)
The label "junk" food is no longer valid as a comprehensive category. Pleasure foods; industrial waste foods; shelf life foods; modified chemically preserved foods and perhaps the more benign processed foods are all part of the problems. Ask your local forensics authority...you will discover that they are finding that intestines are literally preserved by food additives. The quest for shelf life has been beneficial from its start, but new market interests no longer care about nutritional preservation in that process. Junk foods are staples for poverty stricken people, and the children are the victims. I defy anyone to tell me that the junk foods (packaged cakes etc.)are not learned habit; and market driven venders create "comfort junkie habits" and behavioral conditioning is no true reward...

mkparker1210 (3/13/2013 at 3:02 PM)
I enjoy junk food in moderation[INVALID]-it should be a special treat. While obesity and poor health related to malnutrition can be traced to poor dietary habits, I don't believe junk food is responsible for all the evils attributed to it. Here are just a few of the problems obesity and poor health have had laid at their doorstep: sodium, corn syrup, gun violence, poverty, health literacy, genetics, a 24/7 culture, poor sleeping habits, gaming/internet, advertising, product placement (like physically at the checkout counter in addition to television and paper advertisements)...I could go on. Obesity and other related health problems are a multi-faceted problem. What if the problem with obesity was a culture change in the 1970's that made it ok to snack or eat constantly between meals? To walk around with a drink in your hand or something on your desk? To not eat meals as a family or a somewhat more formal occasion at a table instead of in a car or in front of a screen? I don't think laws restricting access are the answer. I think mindfulness and a culture change are what we really need. Making food "communion" in all senses of the word becomes the first step.