Why Johnny Can't Eat Just One

U.S. law requires nutritional labels on retail groceries, but not on restaurant meals, so when former U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner David A. Kessler asked to see the nutritional labels for foods he likes at Chili's restaurant, Chili's refused. An inveterate researcher, Kessler resorted to late-night dumpster-diving to obtain them. He discovered that a single serving of Chili's Southwestern Eggrolls contains a whopping 910 calories, 57 grams of fat and 1,960 milligrams of sodium. The labels mention salt eight different times, and sugars five times. After leading efforts at FDA in the 1990s to regulate nicotine as a drug, Dr. Kessler is exploring the phenomenon of American overeating and the reasons behind the skyrocketing weight gain among the general U.S. population over the last three decades. Dr. Kessler, who has struggled with his own weight over his adult life, discovered that the combination of salt, sugar and fat in foods triggers a chemical change in people's brains that makes them crave more foods containing that same combination. Dr. Kessler sees a parallel between the food industry and the tobacco industry, in that that the food industry manipulates this special salt-sugar-fat combination to induce this neurological response. In his new book, The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite, Dr. Kessler describes how the food industry tries to "hijack" peoples' brains to sell more food.


The item gives the former Surgeon General undeserved credibility in health matters.

Does Kessler's interest in healthy food extend to pesticide content, chlorine-bleached packaging (of dairy products, especially), antibiotics in meat from rBGH-treated livestock, unsafe synthetic sweeteners, and/or GE "foods"?
Does this item lump High Fructose Corn Syrup, Aspartame, Splenda and Sorbitol, etc., in its meaning of "sugars"?
It's a good bet that none of that is in his book...which seems to be more aimed at individuals' behavior, over-eating, than at corporate behavior---treating the public as Guinea pigs with wallets.

Kessler does the same thing in his pretend war on Big Tobacco. He prioritizes victims' behavior, "smoking", and ignores the Corporate Behavior of contaminating typical so-called "tobacco products" with more untested and known deadly adulterants than any other imaginable products on the shelves.

David Kessler was not Surgeon General, of course. He was chief of the FDA...wherein reside representatives of just about every industry that the FDA is supposed to regulate.

I find that the title of his book reinforces stereotypes. Americans don't necessarily have insatiable appetites. And while I have no doubt the food industry plays dirty tricks, the failure to move beyond obesity = gluttony paradigm hurts everyone. People also need to realize yoyo dieting makes them fatter (many have gained weight through years of self-denial, not indulgence), as do environmental endocrine disrupters, stress, overwork and genetics. In all fairness I haven't read the book, but I have heard the argument before.

I think mandatory labeling on restaurant menus is a terrible idea. They should be available for those who want them, not forced in the face of those who want to enjoy their dining experience free of weight obsession and diet babble. It would be far better to raise awareness of how additives like MSG are contributing to diabetes and thus weight gain. And it is in EVERYTHING, even those "healthy" (choke) meals from Weight Watchers and Lean Cuisine.