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Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us on Deadly Junk

Food giants have used food science to train Americans for a lifetime of extra calories, pounds and health risks.

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That’s good news, but the book’s opening scene haunts the rest of the text, reminding us that doing nothing has consequences. In the years since that unsuccessful intervention took place in 1999, Moss reports that, from time to time, individual food companies (most recently Coca-Cola) have promised to limit their advertising reach or lower sugar levels. But these intermittent attempts to adjust the weight scales have generally amounted to little more than corporate public-relations campaigns, ending as soon as rival companies begin encroaching on their customers—or what the business ominously calls their “stomach share.”

Moss’s book is essential reading, but it does have a few faults. First, a clearer timeline would be helpful for readers as he jumps back and forth between his profiles of different companies and executives. Second, and most important, I found it frustrating that after detailing just how difficult the food manufacturers make it to “just say no” to the tasty allure, high convenience, affordable price, and nonstop marketing of processed food, he offers little in the way of advice to help us resist. The advice he does offer is to “think of the grocery as a battlefield, dotted with landmines itching to go off,” and to read food labels. But he explains that the processed-food industry lobbies hard to keep these labels as nonspecific as possible. However, neither of these omissions lessens the power of Moss’s main point, which he’s succeeded admirably in making: we need to wake up to the facts and look before we buy—and before we bite.

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