Alex Pietrowski, Staff
There is a good reason why diet and exercise don’t work like they used to, and that’s because food is not at all what it used to be.
Ninety percent of grocery store shelf space is dedicated to processed foods, developed by food companies who compete against each other for ‘stomach space,’ the industry term for the market share of product food companies can push down consumers’ throats. The foods most widely available in our culture are scientifically engineered to create physical and psychological dependency, and in the last couple of decades our cultural eating habits have been socially re-engineered to include endless mindless eating of industrialized junk food.
Perfectly Engineered Food
Perfectly engineered food is serious business, and as Michael Moss, author of Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, points out, companies like Nestle, Pillsbury, Kraft, Nabisco, General Mills, Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola and Mars, employ absolutely everything at their disposal to get people to not only like their products, but to crave more and more of them.
In a recent interview with National Public Radio, he offers an insider’s look into how this these corporations go about creating the most effective food products they can develop. He describes what the industry calls the ‘bliss point,’ the magical sweet spot between salt, sugar and fat that will give their products the highest allure, thereby generating the greatest possible sales, and the highest number of loyal, repeat customers.
Here, he describes how the process of developing a hit product using an example from the Dr. Pepper corporation:
“They would hire people like Howard Moskowitz, trained in high math at Queens College and experimental psychology at Harvard. Howard was one of the people responsible for some of the biggest icons in the grocery store.
For example, he walked me through his recent creation of a new soda flavor for Dr. Pepper. … He started with no less than 59 variations of sweetness, each one slightly different than the next, subjected those to 3,000 taste tests around the country, did his high math regression analysis thing, put the data in the computer. And out comes this bell-shaped curve where the perfect amount of sweetness — not too little, not too much — is at the very top of the curve.
And it’s Howard who coined the expression “bliss point” to capture that perfect amount of sweetness that would send us over the moon, their products flying off the shelf.” [Source]
This strategy works extremely well, and because sugar is naturally so desirable to human beings, even products you wouldn’t think needed any sugar at all are being loaded with sweeteners in order to boost their appeal, including many well-known foods that never used to be sweet at all.
“It’s not that they engineer bliss points for sweetness in things like soda, ice cream, cookies — things we know and expect to be sweet. The food companies have marched around the grocery store adding sweetness, engineering bliss points to products that didn’t used to be sweet. So now bread has added sugar and a bliss point for sweetness. Yogurt can be as sweet as ice cream for some brands. And pasta sauce — my gosh, there are some brands with the equivalent of sugar from a couple of Oreo cookies in one half-cup serving.
And what this does, nutritionists say, is create this expectation in us that everything should be sweet. And this is especially difficult for kids who are hard-wired to the sweet taste. So when you drag their little butts over to the produce aisle and try to get them to eat some of that stuff we all should be eating more of — Brussels sprouts and broccoli, which have some of the other basic tastes like sour and bitter — you get a rebellion on your hands.” [Source]
Re-engineering and re-branding food has worked extremely well to completely change the cultural landscape of our relationship to food, and to completely rewire our expectations about eating. Something major shifted a couple of decades ago, and now people no longer have any compunction about eating all the time, even during other activities, and some foods are deliberately designed to be eaten from one hand while doing something else with the other.
“There are experts who say there was a day in the 1980’s when suddenly it became socially acceptable to eat anything anywhere anytime. Thats when you saw Parents stop telling their kids not to snack between meals. Snacking became the 4th American meal, and that played right into the hands of the food companies.” [Source]
The food industry is also lowering the quality of sweeteners and fats, and are substituting a variety of sweeteners to replace more expensive sugars, and playing tricks with how these products are labeled so the consumer has no idea what they are eating. Products labeled as ‘diet’ are often more much dangerous to health than natural ingredients and typical calorie loads.
“Food producers have many tactics for hiding food ingredients which have become unpopular with consumers, and such has happened to high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) following numerous scientific studies that have linked it to obesity, Type 2 diabetes and autism. In order to stop using the HFCS name in the ingredients list, food makers have taken to calling a sub-category of HFCS as “fructose syrup” or, plainly, “fructose”.
HFCS is a highly-processed chemical sweetener used in many processed foods, including breads, cookies, candy, condiments, and soft drinks. HFCS extends the shelf life of products, and it is often cheaper than sugar, which are the main reasons why manufacturers like it. But HFCS has gotten a bad rep, considering the circumstantial evidence that links it to various metabolic diseases, so Big Food and the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) decided to get creative.” [Source]
The health problems associated with a diet rich in highly caloric, chemical-laden, scientifically engineered and addictive foods are becoming more obvious now than ever before. Even some of the top players in the food industry have had to admit the truth about the growing epidemics of obesity, diabetes and other chronic illness related to the overconsumption of processed foods.
Speaking to an auditorium of high-powered food industry executives in 2013, Micheal Mudd, vice president of Kraft Foods presented information on the statistics surrounding food and public health.
“As he spoke, Mudd clicked through a deck of slides — 114 in all — projected on a large screen behind him. The figures were staggering. More than half of American adults were now considered overweight, with nearly one-quarter of the adult population — 40 million people — clinically defined as obese. Among children, the rates had more than doubled since 1980, and the number of kids considered obese had shot past 12 million. (This was still only 1999; the nation’s obesity rates would climb much higher.) Food manufacturers were now being blamed for the problem from all sides — academia, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society. The secretary of agriculture, over whom the industry had long held sway, had recently called obesity a “national epidemic.”” [Source]
Salt, sugar and fat, the three horseman of the food apocalypse, and the go to ingredients for food engineers in search of increased product sales and brand-loyal customers who cannot physically resist these foods. Breaking the spell of processed foods is easier now than ever, though, and consumers are affecting the decisions of these corporations by changing their buying habits.
About the Author
Alex Pietrowski is an artist and writer concerned with preserving good health and the basic freedom to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. He is a staff writer for WakingTimes.com and Offgrid Outpost, a provider of storable food and emergency kits. Alex is an avid student of Yoga and life.
This article (The Reason Why Diet and Exercise Don’t Work Like They Used To) was originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Alex Pietrowski and WakingTimes.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this copyright statement.