Broad Street Licensing Group Food News

The Addictive Qualities of Junk Food

NY times

Thanks to my daughter, Katherine Cross, for pointing me to this article in the NY Times about why we are as a species addicted to junk food and how the junk food industry ignored warnings about its effects on health.

The article insists the junk food industry is responsible for the rising wave of childhood and adult obesity.

Heavy stuff. Literally: one in three American adults is considered obese; one in five kids are, with 24 million suffering from Type 2 diabetes (caused by obesity) with nearly 80 million in a pre-diabetic condition.

Yes, there is increasing evidence that humans are hard-wired to overeat. Our ancestors on the plains of Africa didn’t know where their next square meal was coming from. So their brains prompted them to remember particularly nutritious meals. Remember that tasty saber-toothed cat we ate last week? Maybe if we go back there, some more saber-toothed steaks will be lying around. So when we eat fatty junk foods, our biology is conditioned to respond to their siren qualities.

But the article points out that as long ago as 1999, executives at the major processed food & snack companies were warned about the connection and refused to heed warnings of the coming tsunami of fat.

Anybody remember cigarettes and how it was shown they hid the fact that smoking is addictive and makes us sick?

Given the chance to change their practice of advertising unhealthy foods to children, the food companies wanked. The article points out how General Mills in particular chose profits over consumer health. Yoplait yogurt was a hit (especially with 2x the added sugar of its Lucky Charms sugary cereal), so why not extend the yogurt concept to kids with a squeezable tube? Go-Gurts soon reached $100MM annually in sales.

Food companies do what they do well– too well it seems. Added sugar, salt and other ingredients, coupled with great convenience, have made us all willing patsies to our downfall. Granted, efforts to cut salt or sugar have been rejected at the marketplace by consumers who are accustomed to fatty, sugary, yummy fare. The article is full of interesting facts, and should be read by everyone in the food business.

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