Everything You Know About MSG Is Still Wrong

Childhood Obesity News has discussed MSG apologist Alan Levinovitz. In a Slate article, the writer bragged about how, as a translator in China, he amused himself by lying to Americans who thought they were MSG-sensitive. His game was to tell them there was no MSG in the food, and then to observe their total lack of discomfort, which proved to him that “Chinese restaurant syndrome” was all in their heads.

Not only that, his idea caught on with other journalists who also embarked on independent experimentation to prove that their friends were delusional about the symptoms they thought they suffered from eating MSG. And of course some folks insisted that warning the world about the harmfulness of the additive was really all about racial bias.

In 2016, a study by the Monell Chemical Senses Center was published by the journal Physiology & Behavior. It made this assessment of previous investigation:

[B]ecause no study had separated the positive sensory qualities of the appetizing foods from their high sugar and fat content, it was impossible to know if the taste was actually driving the overeating.

Despite the common perception that good-tasting food is unhealthy and causes obesity, new research using a mouse model suggests that desirable taste in and of itself does not lead to weight gain.

The brainwashing, the gaslighting! They are not just saying that MSG does not cause weight gain. They have the audacity to state that “desirable taste in and of itself does not lead to weight gain.” Okay, technically it does not. Desirable taste merely causes people to compulsively overeat, and compulsive overeating causes weight gain. Furthermore, the Monell study was only about sweet and oily tastes, which are not the same as the umami flavor of MSG, so is really hard to to see the implied relevance.

The granddaddy of all MSG-positive websites is Glutamate.org, which offers eight different PDF files suitable for full-color printing, should the reader feel impelled to pass out literature at some event. It is brought to us courtesy of the International Glutamate Information Service, which sets up the World Umami Forum, whose 2018 keynote speaker was the CEO of Ajinomoto, Takaaki Nishii.

Forum attendees hear such points as this one, made by one of the Association’s science advisors:

We get far more glutamate from our food than from MSG, and do we say that the Parmesan cheese on our pasta gives us a headache?

However, research reveals that some people say much worse about parmesan, in terms of allergic reaction symptoms. Another speaker at that gathering advised that people who think they are harmed by MSG should simply avoid it, a move whose near impossibility we have discussed.

In the most recent, up-to-date glutamate news, Megan Schaltegger of Delish states, “Chick-Fil-A Is One Of The Only Fast Food Chains To Use MSG.” A spokesperson from a rival fast-food chain, on the other hand, assures the public that Burger King is making meaningful changes to its menu and is committed to remove MSG from its offerings by the year’s end.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Hold the MSG,” Slate.com, 07/09/13
Source: “Study suggests palatable tastes do not drive long-term overeating,” ScienceDaily.com, 12/15/16
Source: “Home,” Glutamate.org, undated
Source: “Why all of the fuss about MSG?,” TribuneContentAgency.com, 05/20/19
Source: “Chick-Fil-A Is One Of The Only Fast Food Chains To Use MSG,” Delish.com, 06/10/19
Photo credit: Vox Efx on Visualhunt/CC BY

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About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
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Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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