HBO's four-part documentary, "The Weight of the Nation," was the subject of much commentary this week, with critics of all stripes complaining that the program didn’t focus on the right issues.
"Why doesn't HBO's new series, 'The Weight of the Nation,' even mention addiction?" asked the Fix’s Susan Cheever. "We keep getting fatter and fatter because we are overlooking, if not ignoring, an important cause of obesity -- addiction. Certain foods, like certain drinks, trigger an addictive reaction in many people. Once eaten, these foods create a craving for more, more, more. 'Bet you can’t eat just one,' the old Lays Potato Chips ad, is as good a definition of alcoholism (or any addiction) as I know."
Don't I know it. This is precisely why I buy single-size portions of snacks in real time. Leave me alone with a box of cookies and there's a very good chance I'll polish them all off. Willpower, after all, "is not an exhaustible resource," and after a day of avoiding the office junk food, my defenses are worn down by the time I get home.
Pointing to former FDA commissioner Dr. David Kessler’s 2009 book "The End of Overeating," Cheever continues: "He accuses the food industry and restaurant chains of engineering foods to be increasingly addictive (just as the tobacco industry does with cigarettes); they scientifically experiment with taste, texture, color, smell, look -- and above all the empty calories of sugar, fat and salt -- to come as close as possible to eating’s ‘bliss point,’ in Kessler’s words, where the brain’s reward system is captured by this immensely complex, artificially designed food that is as powerful as a drug."