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Stuffed: An Insider's Look at Who's (Really) Making America Fat Hardcover – January 27, 2009

3.8 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When Cardello, a former food and beverage executive, was initially diagnosed with leukemia (lab tests later disproved it), he began looking closely at the relationship between public health and corporate health. The obesity epidemic in particular, he argues, is connected to food businesses that control almost everything the average American eats. Drawing substantially on his professional knowledge, he examines such factors as marketing and product packaging, the recent controversies involving branded school snacks and beverages, the use of trans fat in restaurants, and the various food lobbies. Cardello believes that bottom-line thinking makes it difficult for Americans to eat well. While agreeing that the basic agenda of corporations and consumers alike is more—more profit, more product—he argues that the industries long-range interests are directly entwined with public health and that with their substantial economic power and overpackaged goods, supermarket and restaurant industries could redirect consumption and wellness in novel ways. Although the tone ranges from finger-wagging polemic to reformist optimism, the author does sketch out several solutions to get around obstacles like entrenched corporate and consumer thinking, and he himself cohosted a 2007 summit between industry leaders and obesity researchers. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“Former food-industry executive and current anti-obesity advocate Cardello calls on his erstwhile colleagues to become custodians of their customers’ well-being. . . . The point zings home: The food industry knows how to sell; now it has to sell the right thing.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Anyone who is interested in their health and thinks they’re educated about nutrition needs to read this book.” (Bookbrowse.com)

“An interesting look into the psychological world of the ‘Big Food’ business. . . . Stuffed is a great book because it is honest, and Cardello does not mince words when it comes to the reality of our nation’s misguided obsession with food.” (Eats.com)

“Food companies would be more profitable and keep their customers longer if they adopted the ideas in Stuffed.” (Tom Ryan, former Chief Concept Officer of McDonald’s Corporation)

“Thought-provoking...informative and filled with clever ideas, [Stuffed] will certainly get people talking and thinking.” (Forbes.com)

“Straightforward and sobering. We all know the food industry is big business, but Cardello shows in clear terms just how big it is—with suppliers all over the world—and why this makes it so slow to improve.” (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco (January 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061363863
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061363863
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,769,307 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Burgundy Damsel VINE VOICE on September 16, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I've read a lot of books about diet, obesity, fast food, etc. I have also worked in food service for a decade. Although the prose of this book is not as fluid or catchy as many of the similar books out there, it is quite readable and the information is unique. Along with the standard collection of statistics, there are anecdotes, case studies and interviews far outside the realm of normal recitation that bring a lot of depth and breadth to the discussion of this topic that one doesn't usually see. Definitely a keeper!
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Format: Hardcover
The kernel of Cardello's book is that American obesity is caused by: "Too much high-caloric food that's marketed too effectively to too many who can't resist" (pg 144). The author is a former food industry executive, and his portrayal of obesity culprits is based primarily on his previous employment.

The biggest fault of "Stuffed" is that it is premised on a belief that an entire national health history hinges on fleeting cultural events like television ads or newspaper articles. Cardello makes a huge story-telling mistake in writing as if certain singular events (i.e., Wendy's beef commercials) were cardinal landmarks in creating high levels of American obesity. The actual effect of any of these events is never analyzed--i.e., Did more people get heart disease 20 years after Clara Peller starred in a Wendy's ad? Did more people even eat at Wendy's after this ad? We are just supposed to believe that we are fat, so anything that endorses unhealthy eating must have forced us to be this way. Oh, that human history were really so linear, self-explanatory, and uni-causal. Such a narrative also reveals how little research the author actually conducted. It leaves the reader unable to make an informed or justfied judgement about institutional or personal causes of obesity.

Each chapter loosely focuses on a different food market player, such as boxed goods companies, restaurants, consumers, and government officials. However, the relationships between different players are not explored. This is a major drawback, as the government's role in selectively providing food subsidies for unhealthy products is underrepresented.
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Format: Paperback
I agree very much with the one-star review written by A. B. Morris on Amazon.

This book is aimed at Americans that have never before read even the most basic information about how supermarkets are designed to make you buy more, and that eat almost entirely or entirely packaged foods and fast foods and...that are not very bright or willing to make any type of changes to the way they eat.

The author shows how out of touch he is with basic healthy nutrition by commenting that the idea of not eating anything with ingredients you can't pronounce is ridiculous and would see you starve to death within a week!

The comments about all healthy food tasting awful were also bizarre. As if all of us hate the taste of all vegetables and fruits, eggs, nuts, seeds and high quality meats no matter how well prepared!

The emphasis in this book is on calories and the evils of fat. Eating too many calories and too much fat makes you fat, the author claims. If that was true just recommending smaller serving sizes of the same old highly processed and sugar-filled junk food might be a helpful initiative. But it isn't true. The old 'calories in and calories out' line isn't true - as the book 'Good Calories, bad Calories' and others have explained.

Eating less (of the same old junk) and moving more isn't helpful advice for overweight people, as sensible as this advice seems. Far more important is what you eat, what nutrients it has in it and how much of what you eat is made up of allergens and refined carbohydrates and sugar (which raise blood sugar and insulin levels).

How can eating smaller portion sizes of sugar-filled cereals possibly work, when eating high-sugar foods leaves you more hungry after you've eaten them than before? It just makes no sense.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is an incredible rarity in American publishing, an author expounding a true "middle way" approach to resolving a crisis. I think that nobody with any common sense could deny the fact that America and the world-at-large are in the midst of an obesity crisis. There are many libertarian/right-wing types who would argue that any solution, other than for consumers to choose to stop eating so much (or so much junk food), is big bad government at its worst. On the other side are those advocating sin taxes (like those on alchohol or cigarettes) on any food that they deem unhealthy, generally NGO's and nutritionists. Cardello advocates a relatively novel approach, i.e. of having the government set goals (like it does for auto emissions) on things like calories, fat, sugar, etc., and let industry figure out how to do so without losing consumer appeal. He doesn't advocate any particular change in eating habits, which is my main critique of the book. He seems to shrug his proverbial shoulders and say that the days of home-cooked healthier food are over, and that the best we can do is just work with industry to develop healthier fast foods, snack foods, and other processed foods. I personally feel that advocating healthier foods is worthwhile, and that while most will always like things like chips, chocolates, sodas, and other things of minimal nutritional value, that doesn't mean that we should just accept that and only work to make those things more nutritious.
I also enjoyed learning a bit more about the food industry from an insider's perspective (e.g. how supermarkets are designed with marketing in mind, and why portion sizes in America are so big) and a businessman's take on the issue. If you have an interest in the food industry, nutrition, and/or the obesity crisis, I highly recommend this book.
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