Saturday, 4 July 2009

Book Review: The End of Overeating

The End of Overeating
Taking Control of the Insatiable North American Appetite by David Kessler. 336 pages.

David Kessler is a law graduate and renowned medical doctor who served as commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration under Bush (the first one) and Clinton. He is credited with challenging the tobacco industry and reinventing the food label laws. In this book he reveals the food industry's mastery of manipulation and it's tragic and persistent effect on the North American population.
By now most of us have realized that there is a significant amount of seduction, trickery and manipulation in the grocery and even restaurant industry, but I think that even the most jaded of us will be surprised at just how deep the connivance goes. There are a lot of studies to wade through, many rats in mazes in the beginning of the book that sometimes made reading the book a chore for me. Kessler does offer a goodly amount of interesting inside information about how Big Food combines and layers salt, fat and sugar to hook us and keep us on a lifetime path of "conditioned overeating".
Kessler likens overeating to drug abuse and smoking as a condition that can be overcome with strong determination and a set of personal rules that recognize what the industry is trying to do to us and refusing to let it. He stresses that his Food Rehab is not willpower, but it is hard to say where the line is drawn between the two.
The book is valuable for it's information and it's daring and candid perspective into the food industry. As a weight loss book, I think that it is good to be armed with this information, but am not convinced that the information alone would be enough for most people to combat a lifelong addiction to sugar, fat and salt. Surely it would be invaluable in conjunction with an exercise program, personal support, and life plan to end overeating.
This is an interesting and important book in this era where obesity is the norm and our appetites are ever increasing. I give it a 3.5 out of 5.