Friday, May 8, 2009

Book Club: The End of Overeating

I am in the middle of the most interesting book: The End of Overeating; Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite, by former FDA commissioner David Kessler. Rarely do I buy books, especially one still only available in hardcover, but after seeing Kessler speak about his research on the Colbert Report (one of my most trusted news sources) I knew it would be worth it. So far the text has not disappointed. Kessler's research is centered around understanding why Americans overeat and the role that ingredient composition, the food industry, marketing, and sensory appeal play in this phenomenon. Given the outlandish obesity rates in the US and the obsession over food and weight so prevalent in our society, Kessler's writing could not be more relevant.  

One of the ideas Kessler presents is that of eating as entertainment - also called "eatertainment". The concept of eatertainment is certainly one embraced by the restaurant industry and the prepared food industry alike. The writing really got me to thinking about the role we often allow food to play in our lives. Coping mechanism. Indulgence. Reward. Distraction. Stress reliever. Sound familiar? It might seem obvious, but it was not until reading this book that I realized just how much we tend to use food to escape our circumstances rather than immerse ourselves in the moment - despite what our intentions may be.

Perhaps the best thing about Kessler's writing is his frank style and personal input. Even as a former FDA commissioner, he's not beyond admitting his own struggles to eat healthily given the thousands of processed temptations we are inundated with on a daily basis. I also find the dual approach to examining the obesity "epidemic", from both a chemical and psychological standpoint, a welcome refreshment from the countless one-sided commentaries and diet books on the market. You can find more information about Kessler's work on the FDA website

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