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The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite Paperback – September 14, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Rodale Books; Reprint edition (September 14, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1605294578
  • ISBN-13: 978-1605294575
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (539 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,967 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Conditioned hypereating is a biological challenge, not a character flaw, says Kessler, former FDA commissioner under presidents Bush and Clinton). Here Kessler (A Question of Intent) describes how, since the 1980s, the food industry, in collusion with the advertising industry, and lifestyle changes have short-circuited the body's self-regulating mechanisms, leaving many at the mercy of reward-driven eating. Through the evidence of research, personal stories (including candid accounts of his own struggles) and examinations of specific foods produced by giant food corporations and restaurant chains, Kessler explains how the desire to eat—as distinct from eating itself—is stimulated in the brain by an almost infinite variety of diabolical combinations of salt, fat and sugar. Although not everyone succumbs, more people of all ages are being set up for a lifetime of food obsession due to the ever-present availability of foods laden with salt, fat and sugar. A gentle though urgent plea for reform, Kessler's book provides a simple food rehab program to fight back against the industry's relentless quest for profits while an entire country of people gain weight and get sick. According to Kessler, persistence is all that is needed to make the perceptual shifts and find new sources of rewards to regain control. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Kessler surveys the world of modern industrial food production and distribution as reflected in both restaurants and grocery stores. To his chagrin, he finds that the system foists on the American public foods overloaded with fats, sugars, and salt. Each of these elements, consumed in excess, has been linked to serious long-term health problems. Kessler examines iconic foods such as Cinnabon and Big Macs, all of which have skilled marketing machines promoting consumption. Such nutritionally unbalanced foods propel people who already tend to eat more than mere physical need might otherwise warrant into uncontrolled behavior patterns of irrational eating. These persistent psychological and sensory stimuli lead to what Kessler terms “conditioned hypereating,” which he believes is a disease rather than a failure of willpower. There is hope, however. Kessler identifies the cues that lead to overeating and offers some simple, practical tools to help control one’s impulses. --Mark Knoblauch --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

DAVID A. KESSLER, MD, served as commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration under presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton. He is a pediatrician and has been the dean of the medical schools at Yale and the University of California, San Francisco. A graduate of Amherst College, the University of Chicago Law School, and Harvard Medical School, Dr. Kessler is the father of two and lives with his wife in California.

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Customer Reviews

This book can help you understand and change the way you look at food.
Michelle Dunn
This book is informative and well written; the style is very easy to read and understand without feeling talked down to.
Natasha Stryker
Dr. Kessler then explains how the food industry seeks to orchestrate those ingredients to make products irresistible.
Donald Mitchell

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1,020 of 1,071 people found the following review helpful By scesq VINE VOICE on March 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a well-written, easily understandable, interesting book on the very serious subject of overeating. The book is broken into six parts with relatively small chapters ranging in size from approximately three pages to eleven pages in length with many in the four to seven page range. The first part, for example, has 13 chapters so there is much information but it is presented in a way which flows well together.

When I got this book I was interested in the subject matter but I was worried that the book would be boring or so technical that I would lose interest. I read this book in two days and it has changed my approach to eating.

Part One of the book, Sugar, Fat, Salt, talks about why people eat and overeat. It looks at the physical as well as psychological aspects of overeating.

Part Two of the book (my favorite), The Food Industry, gives specific examples of how restaurants and the food industry contribute to the problem by creating food that people want to eat but is not healthy. For instance I never new that bread had so much salt because it takes away the bitter taste of the flour and brings up the flavor. The author also addresses how nutrition information on packaging is manipulated by the food industry. For instance if a food contains more sugar than any other ingredient it must go first on the list but if you use a number of sources of sugar like brown sugar, corn syrup and fructose each is listed individually and goes lower on the list.

Part Three, Conditioned Hypereating Emerges, talks about how we get trapped into an overeating pattern. It references numerous studies and explores whether overeating is nature, nurture or both.
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590 of 628 people found the following review helpful By Carol Merlo on May 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover
As a middle aged woman who eats pretty well, gets regular exercise, and takes great supplements, it gets pretty discouraging to deal with the frustration and potential negative health consequences of the extra 20 pounds I am carrying around, not to mention the fact that I look in the mirror and see my grandmother's body!

Consequently, I am always on a search for the magic fat loss bullet. So it was a synchronistic moment when I happened to listen to an interview with Dr. David Kessler on PBS recently. This is the former FDA commissioner who reinvented the food label and tackled the tobacco industry. His new book, The End of Overeating, was a must read for me. I wasn't disappointed.

The book is a fascinating read, full of documentation and testimonials on the growing obesity problem and our apparent inability to control our food intake as a culture. Let me walk you through the salient points in this book:

We are biologically wired to respond to sugar, fat, and salt. As processed food became an industry designed to create a profitable product, our waistlines grew. In 1960 women between the ages of twenty and twenty nine weighed an average of 128 pounds. In 2000, that number grew to 157. In the forty to forty-nine age group, it grew from an average of 142 to a whopping 169 pounds! Yes, ladies, the average perimenopausal woman in America weighs 169 pounds, so don't feel alone.

Most of us blame ourselves for our weight gain. We attribute it to a lack of self discipline and control. Well, it turns out that certain foods actually override our conscious will and drive us to continue to consume them. This is a biological phenomenon he equates with alcohol addiction. We are collectively addicted to sugar, fat, and salt.
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456 of 501 people found the following review helpful By Natasha Stryker TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I appreciated this book. I appreciated a health-related book discussing dieting that WAS NOT trying to sell you something. The research that went into this book is impressive and the results are fascinating. Turns out that along with our waistlines, processed food manipulation has been on the rise since the 1980's.

Food producers of all types have been seeking ways to make us want their product more, and it is working. The pleasure-seeking part of your brain is hard to turn off once saturated with key combinations of ingredients, namely fat, sugar and salt. We are hard-wired to seek foods with these ingredients combined, and the public has been trained to respond. The result? Severe obesity and obesity-related health problems in the numbers we have never seen before.

This book does a wonderful job educating the reader in what they are doing subconsciously. It gives power to those who walk around inhaling food and thinking, "why the hell am I doing this?!" Once armed with the knowledge, it is amazing how you walk through the grocery store and see the companies practicing what the book preaches.

You begin to read labels in a new way and ask yourself questions like, "why would this product have so much sugar salt AND fat in it, it's just plain spaghetti sauce?!" If you are a chronic dieter, you stop looking at just fat grams and calories and start READING the whole label. The book is completely right about so many products; fat, salt and sugar are there in combinations to solely get you hooked to eat more of the product.

This book is informative and well written; the style is very easy to read and understand without feeling talked down to. If you ever wondered why we are in the state we are in as a nation of consumers, you will enjoy the education you will get from this book.
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