Dr. David Kessler’s book The End of Overeating was reviewed by Shannon Brown, who notes that Kessler is the person we can thank for curbing the nicotine industry’s desire to target children in advertising, the crusade he took on as Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. Kessler’s next target is junk food — optimally stimulating and bursting with hedonic value — the curse that fuels the childhood obesity epidemic.
Kessler has been a guest speaker at Princeton University and at the Google HQ, among many other venues. He’s been interviewed by Katie Couric, Stephen Colbert, Charlie Rose, Amy Goodman, and by many more. Brown appreciates the enormous amount of information he provides, and concludes,
In the end, Kessler inspired me think carefully about every bite of food that I take, and to stop to think about why I’m eating — is it because I’m actually hungry or are there other factors pressing on me?
Subconscious conditioning is the first cause of overeating, and for any American with unimpaired hearing, the process starts in the womb, when a developing fetus first hears the commercial jingles that urge us to eat at… well, you know which places. Then, courtesy of the family and the society at large, we become enmeshed in the prevailing cultural attitudes.
Once we start down the junk-food road, the very substances themselves go to work rewiring the brain and telling it to want more, more, more. Pretty soon we’re looking at, for instance, a plate of fries, and seeing a friend who’s going to make us feel better. This is, needless to say, a delusion.
Dr. Pretlow concurs up to a point, but thinks Kessler doesn’t go far enough. Here’s an excerpt from Overweight: What Kids Say, based on the self-reported experience of thousands of young people:
Dr. David Kessler argues that obesity is due to what he calls ‘conditioned hypereating.’ He likens this conditioned hypereating and its treatment to tobacco, alcohol, and drug abuse — well acknowledged addictions — yet he never refers to hypereating as an addiction. Kessler also contends that conditioned hypereating results from simply consuming ‘hyperpalatable’ foods…
Addiction to highly pleasurable foods […] appears to result from the pleasure of food easing emotional pain (comfort eating). It would be farfetched to suppose that such dependence and apparent dopamine changes in the brain would develop in the absence of easing emotional pain, from simply casual exposure, as Kessler implies.
Many wise people have expressed the idea that, while answers may be fine in their own way, the really important commodity is the question. Once the right questions are asked, a desire for change becomes unstoppable. Once the questions are posed in the right place, at the right time, and most of all to the right people, success is almost guaranteed.
These thoughts arose from Dr. Kessler’s four-minute video, where he asks some very pointed questions, the most important ones being, how has food become so powerful? And how do we take back control? He urges us to wake up and recognize the extent to which we are manipulated by an industry that sells “what looks like food.”
In reality, he says, the food industry has hijacked our brains, and, to reclaim custody of our own gray matter, we need to fundamentally change how we look at food. In other words, the most important questions are the ones we ask ourselves.
Your responses and feedback are welcome!
Source: “The End of Overeating by David A Kessler,” Inthenews.co.uk, 05/13/10
Source: “Overweight: What Kids Say,” Amazon.com
Source: “Controlling Food Urges,” YouTube.com
Image of Heart Attack Cafe by Michelle Mitchell, used with permission.