The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite

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Most of us know what it feels like to fall under the spell of food—when one slice of pizza turns into half a pie, or a handful of chips leads to an empty bag. But it’s harder to understand why we can't seem to stop eating—even when we know better. When we want so badly to say "no," why do we continue to reach for food?
Dr. David Kessler, the dynamic former FDA commissioner who reinvented the food label and tackled the tobacco industry, now reveals how the food industry has hijacked the brains of millions of Americans. The result? America’s number-one public health issue. Dr. Kessler cracks the code of overeating by explaining how our bodies and minds are changed when we consume foods that contain sugar, fat, and salt. Food manufacturers create products by manipulating these ingredients to stimulate our appetites, setting in motion a cycle of desire and consumption that ends with a nation of overeaters. The End of Overeating explains for the first time why it is exceptionally difficult to resist certain foods and why it’s so easy to overindulge.
Dr. Kessler met with top scientists, physicians, and food industry insiders. The End of Overeating uncovers the shocking facts about how we lost control over our eating habits—and how we can get it back. Dr. Kessler presents groundbreaking research, along with what is sure to be a controversial view inside the industry that continues to feed a nation of overeaters—from popular brand manufacturers to advertisers, chain restaurants, and fast food franchises.
For the millions of people struggling with weight as well as for those of us who simply don't understand why we can't seem to stop eating our favorite foods, Dr. Kessler’s cutting-edge investigation offers new insights and helpful tools to help us find a solution.
There has never been a more thorough, compelling, or in-depth analysis of why we eat the way we do.

Customer Reviews:

  • A Scientific Answer to a Very Common Problem
    I'm always interested in books about food, diet, and healthful eating, not because I'm a health nut (I indulge plenty), but because I think so often my eating habits are clearly out of sync with my body's needs. Kessler does a good job of exploring why Americans specifically are so struck by overconsumption in ways that are relateable.

    Does knowing why we overeat and the forces behind the foods we love (and love to hate) mean we will automatically put an end to the practice? No, but knowledge is power and armed with it, we can choose to eat fatty foods in moderation and to be more aware of what we put in our mouths.

    If you're interested in related topics, I also recommend Joanne Chen's The Taste of Sweet....more info
  • Worthwhile, but flawed as a mass market book
    As the other reviews say, this book is very worthwhile in terms of information regarding the brain's conditioned reward cycle, how the food industry exploits it, and how to begin to work with your own conditioning to get your eating back under control. I recommend it highly on those terms.

    However, had I read it prior to publishing, I would've made two recommendations:

    1. Expand the information in chapter 28: "What Weight-Loss Drugs Can Teach Us." There, we learn that the successful, but dangerous (and so withdrawn) Phentermine/fenfluramine drug combination worked by raising serotonin levels. Higher levels of serotonin shuts down dopamine activity, which reduces activity in the brain's reward pathways. Dieters using this drug combination reported feeling "normal" about food again, i.e., they weren't obsessing about it and were much better able to make good choices without struggling.

    Kessler gives us this important info, but doesn't go on to say that it is possible to raise serotonin levels without the use of dangerous drugs. Exercise, sunlight, certain foods (high in omega 3 fatty acids, like salmon, flax seeds, chia seeds), good sleep, meditation, herbs like St. John's Wort--all contribute to a healthy level of serotonin. Raise your serotonin, and food will not have such a strong hold over you. Look here for more info on raising serotonin levels: [...]

    2. The book reads more like a first draft than a polished, well-organized book written for a mass market audience. It is repetitious and the part about the food industry is way too long. The endless descriptions of food were hard to get through, mainly because they made me want to eat.

    He makes you wait until the end to get to the heart of the matter--how to reprogram your conditioning. And then he doesn't give enough real life examples. Really, he speaks only of his own experience. This kind of inner work is tough to do. Having lots of real life examples would not only give you more concrete ideas about how to do it, it would provide inspiration, as well. Stories, real life stories, are a powerful teaching aid.

    All of that said, however, I still recommend the book. I'd like to see a website where people trying to recondition themselves can go to for support. ...more info
  • A very good job
    Dr. Kessler gives you a lot of really good information here in his new book, "The End of Overeating". He does a lot of in-depth research, talking with food manufacturing executives, people on the front lines who are creating foods that make us want to overeat. His approach is direct: he blames food manufacturing and our bodies for overeating, since those two things work in concert with each other to create these super-strong pulls that lure us into overeating.

    The book itself contains a whole lot of great information, backed up by interviews and research studies, and I have to say that I learned a lot from this book.

    The problem here is the organization of the writing. Kessler broke his book down into about 40 small chapters of between two and ten pages, each chapter covering one major aspect of why we overeat or what we can do about it. Then, the next chapter begins, always recapitulating exactly what the previous chapter stated. Each go through is half a page of recap information. In this, I kind of felt like Kessler took a blog and turned it into a book. Each chapter is a stand-alone post, and assumes that you've all but forgotten large parts of what you just read.

    It's a nitpick that I'm sure won't bother most readers, but for me, I thought it was enough to deduct a star. This is a very good book, though, and I would definitely recommend it. ...more info
  • A basic book with a few good items of information
    David Kessler's book is a good basic text about food addiction and the food industry's attempt to get us to over-eat.

    Here are the facts I learned:

    1. Food with fat, salt and sugar are highly desirable. When fat, sugar, and salt are layered on foods it becomes even more irresitable.

    2. Restaurants and food maufacturers try to get us to hyper-eat. To crave their food. The more fat, sugar, salt, the more we crave.

    3. Standard, basic addiction recovery techniques can help one fight the obsession and compulsion to over-eat.

    That's mostly it.

    The most fascinating bit of information I learned was the concept of "transition emotions." These are the emotions one experiences when changing activities. During transition emotions one may tend to rely on an addictive behavior, such as over-eating, to escape from uncomfortable feelings.

    I gave the book 3 stars because I expected more. I was hoping for something more engaging, more academic, and more cutting-edge.

    Overall, a nice book, with some interesting facts, but also a disappoitment. ...more info
  • So-So... quick read, just a bit text bookish...
    I see this book has high reviews, but I really didn't like it that much. Having read "Fast Food Nation," a great dieting book within itself, this book seemed to read more along the lines of a textbook. It wasn't that it wasn't interesting, just if you've read other books on the subject this book is kind of bland. There is a lot of research and the author touches on both the psychological and physiological aspects of why we tend to overeat; more importantly, how manufactures are capitalizing on the way they present and prepare food to keep you eating more of it! Of course, none of it's healthy, which leads us back to big companies wanting to make profits at our expense. Sad. This really makes you want to eat more natural-whole-food-home-grown-foods, for sure!

    Still, it's a quick read and easily digested : )

    ...more info
  • Everyone needs one of these
    Sometimes it's hard to remember that most of the all ready available products are made in ways to cut costs and maximize profit. The health of the consumer is not really important, who cares how long you live if you just buy the jarred sauce and ready made snacks, even when you expire there is another sucker who is all ready addicted to the fats and sugar to take your place with their wallet in hand. This book makes us think again, I certainly felt like I was getting a course on how to eat, even though in the past few years I have been very vigilant about corn syrup ( which now apparently has traces of mercury, lovely) and other additives that are sneaked in, not only do they make us all bloated and fat but they change the way our bodies digest food. Who knows what humans will morph into in the future after all the damage we're doing now.

    I also liked the way the book talked about the sizes, how much is really enough, do eat to live or live to eat? Sometimes there aren't' enough hours in the day to fit all our cravings in. I love reading these books, they hammer logic into my brain, I definitely fill my baskets with vegetables of all sorts and focus on healthy cooking, if its tasty then I don't need to eat as much to feel satisfied.
    ...more info
  • Very interesting guide into food industry goals
    As a person who tries to eat only wholesome foods - which excludes the vast majority of anything prepared outside of my own kitchen, this book was still an impressive eye opener in many aspects.

    Dissecting the various foods, and employing the help of an industry insider about the truth about the goal of food companies (money, only money, and nothing but money), the reasons some people overeat are explored scientifically - along with how the food industry exploits that scientific knowledge.

    From a basic course in biology, most people are aware of the 3 basic food types that humans seek and will readily eat - fat, sugar, and salt. For thousands of years, finding these meant calories, safe eating, and health. But the three key ingredients were never combined, mixed, and layered as they are today - which this book delves into.

    If you're not a person that overeats or is drawn into certain types of food (like myself - I just whatever is available whenever I'm hungry, and stop when I'm not) - most of this book is still quite compelling. The last couple dozen pages, however, are dedicated to those who want to "un-learn" their conditioned response to certain stimulus, which is eating.

    While this book was an incredible journey of the processing of food, I would also recommend The End of Food: How the Food Industry is Destroying Our Food Supply--And What We Can Do About It for an equally interesting insight into the "food" before it is processed. In addition, The Hundred-Year Lie: How to Protect Yourself from the Chemicals That Are Destroying Your Health which will keep you shaking your head about what major food companies are putting into our food for the sake of profit. While these 2 books are not directly related to The End Of Overeating, in the grand scheme of our food production, from the raw products to the final, over-processed food many people eat and may consider healthy, they compliment each other well.

    A highly recommended book; you may end up wanting to plant a garden, outfit your kitchen, and start making healthy, wholesome (and cheaper) foods after reading. We're all used as profit making machines for companies that mix various textures and flavors (via chemicals, salt, sugar, and fat) that they've invented and have no place in nature - and shouldn't have a place on our tables....more info
  • Well researched but perhaps a bit too forgiving.
    As someone who's lost a bundle of weight over the years, I've done lots of reading about food science and weight and as such, many of the subjects Dr. Kessler covers in "The End of Overeatinig" are things I've heard before. Nonetheless, Kessler does a nice job of presenting them in a well researched, detailed and readable manner, something that a lot of these food science books have trouble with. And quite frankly, even for someone not afflicted with overeating as a concern, there's a lot of good information about food science (and the creepy process of pulling apart real food and turning it into food product.

    So by and large a good read, but it's a bit too forgiving. At some level, there's a responsibility to the eater for overeating,and modern society's willingness to blame someone else is always something I've had issue with. At some point, the buck stops with the eater.

    Having said that, I enjoyed "The End of Overeating", and especially for anyone not terribly well versed in modern food processing, this is a worthwhile investment....more info
  • The Fat and the Skinny of it
    Here is my favorite factoid: High sugar/high fat is so rewarding to the brain that rats will press a lever to get a high fat/high sugar reward only slightly less often than they will to get....cocaine! No wonder that those of us who have been reinforcing ourselves with food rewards can't stop thinking about food.

    In this highly readable book, Dr. Kessler begins with his quest to understand why he is overweight and obsessed with food. He describes the biology of reward, showing how food can cause the same neurochemical events in the brain as addictive drugs. His descriptions of research studies are interesting and easy to read. He shows the information that has swayed him personally and clearly explains the conclusions he's reached.

    Dr. Kessler also does a great job of describing how the food industry has tailored its products for maximum palatability, with the result that many foods are literally, and undetectably by the consumer, larded with fat (and sugar and salt). The potential profits in these "irresistible foods," he explains, are huge, and the food industry specializes in creating foods that give people just the kind of big neurochemical reward that reinforces craving.

    *However,* as a few reviewers have already pointed out, he presents some ideas as "fact" (for example, he indicates that genetics does not contribute greatly to a pattern of weight gain) that are, at a minimum, controversial. I wish he had made it clear when the position he espoused was still unproven. Unfortunately, he did not, and therefore his "facts" should be taken with a grain of salt. I find this frustrating, because the lay reader cannot be expected to know which "facts" are well-established and which aren't.

    The final section of this book was the most disappointing for me, because after explaining how a struggle with will-power does not work to maintain weight loss, Kessler essentially recommends setting up a set of eating rules (based on one's individual triggers), that are adhered to by, yes, *willpower*, until the food triggers have lost their strength. Although this technique apparently worked for him, it seems like just another diet to me.

    I also wish Dr. Kessler had focused more on the environmental reasons that people begin and get stuck in chronic overeating. To his credit, he mentions that familial environment contributes to triggering certain people's focus on food, and he talks briefly about addressing the emotional component of overeating toward the end of the book, but he focuses much more on short-circuiting biological triggers, which seems insufficient to me.

    In summary, I liked the style of this book, the way it explored scientific studies, and the way Kessler explains how fat, sugar, and salt get added to food by the food industry. (Knowledge is power here, I think.) But I was disappointed by other aspects of his book, and particularly by his suggestions for disengaging from overeating. For that, I recommend the following book:

    Normal Eating for Normal Weight: The Path to Freedom from Weight Obsession and Food Cravings...more info
  • He tells it like it is!
    Finally, a hard look at why America is becoming obese, even with diets and exercise. It's because of greed.

    Dr. Kessler is an expert in several ways, so we should pay attention to what he is talking about: Medical doctor (Harvard), attorney, pediatrician, former Dean of Yale's Medical School, former vice-chancellor, UC-SF, former FDA commissioner, appointed by a Republican and re-appointed by a Democrat. Under his watch, the FDA had regulations adopted to require standardized food labels. He is also a husband and father and has suffered the same attack on our waistlines and health that all Americans have had to deal with the past few decades. Therefore, I believe what he has to say.

    This book is about the physical and psychological aspects of eating and how the food industry manipulates the food and you so they can make a bigger profit. It also gives you some hope that you can identify and beat the game so you can live a better life. You need to read this book so you can understand how we have been manipulated into overeating so much that obesity is now an epidemic! You would think that someone would try and squelch this guy because the healthcare industry is also getting rich on the obesity epidemic as they are scheduling more and more elective surgery for some type of gastric bypass. Surely, you, yourself, know a growing number of people who have gotten or will soon get a gastric bypass? The problem is not with the person or even with the over-abundance, but with the food industry itself.
    I, for one, learned that I have been taught (properly, mom and dad) to clean my plate, but if you have a meal at a popular chain restaurant, you will probably eat at least twice what you should without even noticing! I think before I even ask for a drink refill, I will as for a `to go' box from now on! That way, I can feel good about leaving a clean plate and also feel good about not overeating. I thought I was doing pretty well by removing the top of the bun of the burger- that's just the beginning. You need to be able to learn how to control how much and WHY you eat and not feel bad about yourself which would probably cause you to eat more...the loop is endless.

    NOTE: In the edition I read, no one was trying to sell anything (as opposed to some other health-related books) but it did not include the end notes or an index. There was also no reference to " `Food Rehab' TM " in my version. The chapters are short and easy to read, but are not far removed from what I imagine some presentation slides and lecture notes from a `live' version would be like. I could see this as a very effective one or two day seminar.

    Still, if you think you have been defeated by food and just can't control yourself, it's not you, it's the food industry. If you are a failed dieter or caring medical professional or a parent with a child that is on the verge of obesity, you will love this book!
    Some other new books that you might find interesting are: The Instinct Diet: Use Your Five Food Instincts to Lose Weight and Keep it Off and The Beck Diet Solution: Train Your Brain to Think Like a Thin Person...more info
  • This book will make you mad!!!
    There have been many accurate reviews here but I had to add my own. I love this book, but it will make you so mad at how the food industry has taken advantage of you and ruined your health. One of my favorite points in the book was that non-American cultures take good food and combine it in interesting ways. In America, we take cheap food, salt it, roll it in fat, smother it in sugar, roll it in fat a few more times and then serve it as food. This is a must read for anyone who cares about their health....more info
  • Hypnotic lure of food preoccupies your thoughts? You MUST read this book!
    I believe we've always known that food exerts a very strong pull over us, especially when you're talking about those enticing ads on TV, but until I read this book, I didn't fully know how this took place -- you know, the science of it all. The author, Dr. David Kessler, presents expert after expert that discuss the way in which food manufacturers have, over the years, learned how to "design" food which basically cannot be resisted by the normal human being.

    Whereas we used to have, say, a good ol' apple pie from Grandma, we now have "super pie," in that research is done to create foods that are "hyperpalatable" and squarely hit our "bliss point" with the exact amount of sugars, fats, and salt that hit our pleasure center a drug. In fact, manufacturers have gotten really good at this, and these highly-palatable foods actually affect the electrical activity in our brains, creating an intense "anticipation" (the ultimate goal of food designers) when we're confronted with them. Also, extensive research is done on creating exceptional visual appeal, tantalizing mouth feel (even to the point of making foods soft and easy to chew, i.e. pre-digested), and enticing aroma, in order to grab us and keep us coming back.

    One fascinating chapter was about the creator of Cinnabon, Jerrilyn Brusseau, and how she came about creating the "perfect" cinnamon bun. She originally made them for her famly, but this turned into a business, wherein she attempted to find that "bliss point" to make her buns the best in the world. This would make someone who can't get enough of them angry and frustrated, except for the fact that she discusses that she never intended for her cinnamon buns to be eaten several times a day -- they are "once-in-a-while" indulgences. That's all fine and good, unless you're on the receiving end of her hyperpalatable product!

    Now, I know that if creating and manufacturing food is a business, then owners will want to excel and make as big a profit as possible. However, I'm sure none of us wants to feel that we are being manipulated to want (and MUST GET) anything...including a burger or a big dish of pasta (which, by the way, looks nothing like what you get in reality). We are not told in commercials or packages that research has been done to get us addicted to that food, so we'll eat it and keep coming back to get our "fix." It's not discussed that the calorie and fat count far exceeds anything that Grandma made, or that we could make at home. And we're also not told that exposing our children at a young, impressionable age to hyperpalatable foods creates an unrealistic expectation of what "normal" food should taste like, and, need I say,
    has helped to create the epidemic of obesity we're having worldwide.

    The last section of the book focuses on "food rehab." Of course, the majority of the book discusses the biology of how we've gotten so attached to food, and "knowledge is power." I believe this is the main draw of this book. But he also mentions several strategies to pull ourselves out of the ratrace that we are in, such as increasing structure of mealtimes so that unplanned eating is limited, behavior mod techniques of keeping your mind from focusing on food by doing other activities, and "thought stopping." I have heard of "thought stopping" technique before in helping control negative thoughts, but never heard it applied to helping control overeating. He quotes Dr Richard Rawson, who coined this term and who works with drug addicts, as saying that there is a small window of time in which we must say "no!" to a food, or continuing to eat a food, or we lose the battle when we begin to debate our decision. (I found this very valuable and have been using it successfully since I finished the book!)

    I highly recommend this book for anyone who is in the daily fast-food cycle, and for anyone with children. As someone who was raised on fast food, I can identify with the struggle of thinking that a Whopper is how burgers are supposed to taste, when a homemade burger is so much healthier, but may not taste as "blissful."...more info
  • Title may be a little overreaching
    A fascinating story about people and our food. Not a diet book, and not a medical book, The End of Overeating falls somewhere in between the two.

    Written by the former head of the Food and Drug Administration, the book reads very well. David Kessler still works in the medical field, apparently, and is now at the University of California, San Francisco. I'd say he will have a pretty good second career as a writer. Some doctors (like Michael Crichton, Tess Gerritsen, and Robin Cook) have done that, making the transition to best-selling fiction writers.

    But how many doctors, let alone former government bureaucrats, can write compelling and entertaining nonfiction? Like the chapter on Cinnabons, that had me salivating and smelling those wicked treats just by reading the words David Kessler wrote? Not many.

    The title did seem a little overreaching, though. David Kessler tells how many of us become "conditioned overeaters." That is, we eat foods laden with fat and sugar even when we are not hungry and even though we are desperate to lose weight. We hate ourselves for it, but still we eat.

    David Kessler does offer some suggestions on what to do. From other reviews it seems like those suggestions have helped some readers. But I did not see anything in the book that pointed out how to Take Control of the Insatiable American Appetite. Or that foreshadowed the End of Overeating. I learned a lot about why we eat what we do, and that was interesting.

    But even David Kessler admitted that he struggles with his own weight. The End of Overeating does not provide any big secrets on how to win that struggle. Just why it is a struggle. That story it tells very well.

    [For a possible answer on how we might win the struggle with weight, take a look at Why Diet and Exercise Fail: How Current Research Contradicts Conventional Wisdom about Weight Loss. David Kessler's book has been heavily promoted and written about in the press. But I was more impressed with the thinking and suggestions in Why Diet and Exercise Fail.]
    ...more info
  • There's A Reason Why You Overeat And It's Not What You Expect
    As a former 400+ pound man, I know what it's like to overeat. You don't get to that level of morbid obesity without consuming food in excess and there's a perfectly good reason why so many of us have that urge to eat like there's no tomorrow. Former FDA commissioner Dr. David Kessler examines this issue and dives head first into explaining his theory behind why people can't seem to control their desire to eat, eat, eat. Not surprisingly, he says we have become so conditioned to eat certain foods that drive us to eat more of those foods (can you say carbohydrates?) that we no longer eat for hunger-but instead do it as a "reward" for our accomplishments. You'll read some fascinating research on this issue that points the finger at some of the biggest names in the fast food and food manufacturing industries for marketing to a targeted audience destined to fall lockstep into faithful obedience to out-of-control eating. This isn't an easy read, but one worth exploring if you've ever felt compelled to pounce on a Cinnabon!...more info
  • Interesting Information But Technical
    This book was very hard for me to get through. It has some interesting information about how the brain works and very interesting information about the food industry and what they do to make us crave their food but the book is a little technical and became very boring in parts. I found that the author was trying to explain principles and techniques to the reader and he explains and explains and explains. It just got boring in places. It was very interesting information, it was gone over and over again.

    It is not a typical diet book but gives ways to retrain your brain into not getting such a reward out of eating. The information is true and not hard to follow but I'm not sure if it will make enough of a difference in the reader's life to really change them. Basically, the book is trying to say that its not willpower but mindset.

    I gave the book 3 stars because it was hard to get through in some places but I am glad that I read it. It does have useful and interesting information in it. I don't really think it has changed my life except that I do look at the food industry in a much different way now. ...more info
  • Sugar+Fat+Salt = Delicious
    When I ordered The End of Overeating, I was expecting either a dense footnoted book on the US food industry, or possibly a self help diet book. What I found was neither. I was surprised to find a light fast read - I finished in about two days reading after work. This was not what I expected, but was an excellent book.

    I expected something medium dense. This book has no footnotes or endnotes. That doesn't mean it's free of science. Kessler constantly describes psychology experiments in which rats are given fat, sugar, salt and drugs, and those four change rat behavior in similar ways. He also describes menu items from nationwide chain restaurants and points out the sugar, fat, and salt, plus a tiny bit of something that makes the meal seem healthy so that people don't feel that they are eating badly. For example, spinach in dip is pretty much fatty dip, but it makes people feel good about eating, so they eat more. The rule of thumb is to throw something green in it.

    I don't at all want to give the impression that Kessler is giving dry breakdowns. His descriptions of food make it sound appealing, and he mixes in interviews with people who really appreciate the food in question. When I read, I was like, hmmm, I kind of want to go out and get me some of that food. He describes it as unhealthy, but also fabulously tasty. He also interviews food scientists and marketers who are experts in the study of hedonics, as in hedonistic.

    Likewise, his descriptions of rats going to extreme lengths to get treats in a lab are fast reading. There is a lot of science/experimentation here all presented in the short interesting parts that would get into a short news article. It's not all rats either. Kessler covers different theories on how food affects behavior and then gives examples from psychology or biology experiments.

    As to self-help dieting advice, this isn't that, but the last 1/6 of the book was about behavioral conditioning and how to break patterns that make people overeat. A good chunk of this was things individuals can do - like recognize that restaraunt portions are two meals, not one, and reprogramming personal habits to get a healthier lifestyle. The part of this section I liked most most ways society could change for better eating habits, like making it rude or unusual to eat on the street, in classroom, and in meetings, which would put food back in meal times rather than omni present.

    Overall, this was a light fast read. It's nontechnical, but I think people who want something more technical will still enjoy it. People who are looking for a diet book are not going to find that, but are going to find a good insightful book that will probably help them in the long run. This is very much worth a read, and I hope that the ideas presented here catch on because there is a lot of potential to benefit society....more info
  • Awareness breaks the addiction.
    Like others, I believe this book is well-written and an easy read. However, for me the value lies in the awareness of how I've been led into overeating. That awareness now allows (helps) me break the addiction to sugar, fats and salt. Some of the edible substances (it's difficult to call them food anymore, since they provide "pleasure" rather than proper nourishment) I've been addicted to: chocolate bars, ice cream, potato and corn chips.

    It seems so much easier to keep the mindset that I just do not need such things anymore....more info
  • Fun, Entertaining and Informative.
    How can you not love a book with a chapter titled "The Era of the Monster Thickburger"? This is just one example of the tongue in cheek humor used to highlight the stark reality that is not funny in the least. The book outlines not only how to not overeat but more importantly the why we overeat in the first place. The real thrust of the book seems to be to encourage us all to read the whole label. Move past calories and carbohydrates and start paying attention to the combinations of fat, sugar, salt that drive the overeating. The author touches on social norms in expressing his opinion. The usage of real world examples helps to make the novel relevant. What I was most intrigued by was the method of preparation and its role in consumption and health.

    1. Easy to read.
    2. Fun and engaging.
    3. Relevant examples.
    4. Humor highlights points but does not overpower the points.
    5. Quick read (a couple of hours)

    1. Lack of index hurts the use of this book as a reference material. (EDIT 3/19/09) I have been alerted that the final version will have a complete index. Because of this I have to withdraw the one criticism I had.

    A great and entertaining read that I plan on encouraging my family and friends to read....more info
  • Good Information To Uplift
    I can't enough of the insightful information. I'd like to see more tips and tools that have been clinically used with long term success for the CURE. Check out Not Your Mother's Diet on Amazon as a companion book to this one. ...more info
  • Designed to Make You Eat . . . and Eat . . . and Eat
    At least one third of Americans are now obese, not just overweight, but obese. And it's not genes, it's not a lack of will power, it's not just self-indulgence; it's the food itself. It's designed to get you eating and keep you eating.

    Author David Kessler has written a book of supremely helpful information about the food Americans typically eat. It's filled with research studies that are so informative about how the food industry manipulates consumers. It's an eye-opening expose of food research and how it affects you (and your health and wealth).

    Having convinced you that fat, salt, and sugar are inserted into food products to make you eat without thinking, Dr. Kessler offers solutions. These are not the easy 'lost ten pounds this week' come ons offered by the diet industry, and they will not appeal to many. However, they work.

    Please, if you're struggling with weight, take the time to read this book, and think about the information Dr. Kessler offers. It's information that can help you beat overeating.

    Highly recommended!...more info
  • Best Book on Obesity and Overeating Ever!
    To begin with this book is written by David A. Kessler, MD, former commissioner of the FDA and pediatrician. He is well qualified to proffer a diagnosis and treatment program for overeaters and obese people who got themselves that way by overeating. In this book which I believe is truly groundbreaking Dr. Kessler explains why we eat and then keep on eating long after we have ceased to feel hungry, and then proscribes control mechanisms to stop overeating. I must say Dr. Kessler is a great writer which is not true for most scientists. The book reads well and the topics covered are short and covered in a few pages: just enough material to get me interested and read to the end of each topic. My advanced uncorrected proof is filled, page after page with my own handwritten notations, underlining and highlighting of important and most profound statements. After reading the book I felt as though I was privileged to have been let in on the answers to my own overeating tendencies. I could never understand why I ate more than I needed to before but this book explains why and how to stop.

    I had no idea that for thousands of years people ate what they needed and nothing more. Consequently with exercise most people were not obese. Dr. Kessler explains that all that changed in the 1980's where food preparers, restaurants and the like studied and learned what causes people to enjoy food and eat more. These same businesses decided to utilize this science to enhance their bottom line and the consequence for corporate greed is a nation of fat, unhealthy people. What makes all this worse is that most of these same people would most likely not be obese and unhealthy prior to the 1980's. It was the science around "sugar, fat and salt" coupled with the art of skillfully putting them together to drive our palates crazy that did us in. The more we ate what we loved to eat the more we wanted more. It is kind of like sex in a way. Apparently sugar, fat and salt in the right combinations create all sorts of stimuli in the brain and body that coupled with memories of the places and settings that we enjoyed this feast create Ivan Pavlov like cues that condition us to respond like a dog hearing a bell at the same time as food is presented. So over time driving by an Olive Garden in one's car would just make one's mouth start to water. Soon images of that cheesy pasta with free extra bread sticks would appear in one's mind. A desire to drive into the parking lot would soon ensue. Entering the restaurant and experiencing the familiar (all tied together to past memories) ambiance would reinforce action to have a seat and order that large dish which one is now craving. Taking the first bite and experiencing the right scientifically combined amounts of sugar, fat and salt sets the body's chemistry, endorphins and happiness enzymes into high orbit. Next thing one knows it that a normal portion of food was eaten 20 minutes ago and now one is still eating. It is all like Soma from a Brave New World Revised novel by Aldous Huxley where food becomes our escape from the harsh realities of the world. My Olive Garden analogy is but a "taste" of what Dr. Kessler explains very well as "conditioned hypereating." If you want to know more about why you weigh more than you should you really need to read this book. It just may save your life. It may have saved mine.

    In fairness to the author, rather than give away the many secretes of changing this destructive pattern of behavior I would recommend you buying this book if you have an overeating problem. The answers that he gives will empower you to change....more info
  • An enlightening read
    Often we take for granted what is put in the plate we find in front of ourselves. Going out to a restaurant to grab a bite to eat we sometimes forget who is marketing this food, what is it made of, who is making it, and why do some of us find ourselves regularly craving one and the same thing. Thanks to Dr. David Kessler many of these questions are answered. Never before had I taken the time to think of what food actually does to a person, their senses, their brains, etc. I've more than once made the connection, presented in this text, of how food is similar to drugs in their hold on some people. The worst part, in my opinion, is that drugs are not needed to live, food is, and usually we need to confront it more than once a day.

    One of the most interesting aspects of this book is the many variables that come together to make us hunger for specific types of food. Even worse is the fact that said foods are now processed to be eaten faster and hold more calories than their original forms would yield. The triangle of salt, sugar, and fat are a constant presence in fast food restaurants the world over these days. The science behind what ingredients to put in which order, what feedback to expect from adding 'add-ins' and how our minds grow accustomed to readily available sources of salt, sugar, and fat are all described within this book. Undoubtedly this will make you think about your next meal, you might salivate like Pavlov's dogs (even to food you probably don't like), but you'll always have the image of what you're really eating in the back of your mind.

    The specific plans/ideas described at the end of the book, for how cravings should be controlled, portion sizes should be made appropriate for each individual, are thought provoking and, at times, simply logical. How successful will you be? Well, that's a separate story. This book packs a lot of information, just reading through it made me think of what I eat, when I eat, how I eat, etc. All of us can undoubtedly find ways to better our eating habits, and I'm more than sure that most, if not all, of us have a favorite food that we cannot resist if presented with. To understand why that happens and, for those who want to learn what we can do about it, invest in this book....more info
  • The Reason We Overeat
    This book is about overeating and the reason that people do it. Dr. Kessler pores through the research and details the physiological and psychological reasons for why we are drawn to overeat, and the way that big corporations use this research to make food products that are guaranteed to tempt us to over-indulge. It all boils down to sugar, fat, and salt, and how companies spend millions of dollars developing recipes and chemicals that will entice us, to over-ride our natural "homeostasis" that would normally keep us at an even weight.

    The first part of the book deals with the physiological research, then the psychology behind overeating, and finally, at the end of the book are chapters devoted to dealing with all of these triggers, and helping yourself to get beyond the temptations and stay at an even weight. Kessler terms the overeating that we experience these days as "conditioned hypereating," a conglomeration of most of the theories that he looks into. I thought the book was well-written and engaging, and Dr. Kessler presents the information in the form of interviews so it doesn't get bogged down in boring data and tables. I definitely saw myself and a lot of my eating habits in the people that he writes about.

    Kessler doesn't give a detailed, step-by-step diet plan, but instead gives the reader various psychological strategies that we can use to overcome conditioned hypereating. Most of these ideas were good (and common-sense), though some might be hard to do. He does give a big dose of reality in stating that if we have a problem with overeating, we will always have to be extra careful around foods that use the fat/sugar/salt equation to tempt us.

    I did notice one error (he calls mashed potatoes simple carbohydrates, when I *believe* they are considered complex), and one big problem with the book is that there is no index or bibliography (though I read an advance copy so it might be added in to the finished book). This is a good book for anyone who has always wondered why they can't stop eating that bag of potato chips, or why one bite ends up being the entire plate....more info
  • A compelling page turner
    If you enjoy books on health, nutrition and food policy from authors like Marion Nestle and Michael Pollan you are sure to enjoy The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite by former FDA commissioner David Kessler. In it Kessler explores the science behind why we as humans overeat, how food companies are taking advantage of this knowledge, and what we as individuals can personally do to try to overcome overeating. In short, it's quite comprehensive without belaboring any point or boring its audience. I wasn't sure what to expect going in but found myself captivated by the book and eager to get to the next chapter.

    There are a lot of inherent strengths in this book. The first is how well it is written. Kessler uses a very approachable yet credible tone that reminded me of What to Eat and In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto, two health/nutrition books I thoroughly enjoyed. He does a great job of weaving together personal stories, expert interviews, and scientific studies in a way that makes the information easily digestable and compelling. Even though I have already read at least a dozen other health/nutrition books the information was all very new to me and very interesting. He also mentions at several points in the book that he too is an overeater so you get the sense you are being spoken to as a peer, not preached at or looked down at. The chapters are also very short and digestable which makes it an easy book to get through.

    I especially appreciated that he included a section called 'The Theory of Treatment' in which he gives the reader suggestions about how to overcome overeating. I really appreciated this because a lot of times general health/nutrition (not diet books) books don't really give the reader anything actionable to do. This book is full of sound suggestions that match up with the cognitive behavioral therapy done for other issues like anxiety and OCD. Having already read The Food and Feelings Workbook: A Full Course Meal on Emotional Health I found a lot of compatability between the things recommended in each book, which I appreciated. I also like that he takes great care to mention that there is no one size fits all approach and that everyone must deal with it in their own way to speak to their behaviors and life experience. He is also careful to point out that overeating doesn't just afflict overweight Americans. In hearing this I felt this book was meant for me because although I am a healthy weight and fit person I still struggle with episodes of overeating and feeling out of control with what I put in my mouth. I'm already starting to incorporate the techniques he suggested into my everyday life and will update my review as I progress.

    Overall this is a great book and one I am already planning on recommending to my boyfriend who also struggles with overeating. Kessler does a great job of researching the issue and packaging up his findings in a way that is not only approachable, but makes for a page turner....more info
  • Some Good Points with Some Serious Flaws
    I'll start with what I liked about this book. What Kessler says about fat, salt, and sugar is correct, and needs to be much more widely understood. Processed food is an important reason why obesity is rising.

    But I'm not sure that "End of Overeating" delivers this message as effectively as other books - for example Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto, which I highly recommend. Kessler's sensual descriptions of junk food make it sound so appealing I wanted to drop the book and run out and buy some! I saw this mentioned in another review, so it's not just me.

    The book's most serious flaws are some fundamental inaccuracies. At the beginning of Chapter 2, Kessler states flat out that excess fat is caused by overeating, and there is no significant genetic component. He says there was confusion about this in the past because the studies all involved people recording what they ate, and it was later found that fat people underestimate what they eat in food diaries.

    Kessler is an M.D. Does he not read the New England Journal of Medicine? Studies comparing how fat and thin people react to food are by no means limited to food diary studies. There have been numerous twin studies, both experimental and longitudinal. The weight of twins raised apart is more similar to their biological parents than the parents who raised them. In overfeeding studies, identical twins gain very similar amounts of weight whereas unrelated people gain highly variable amounts of weight. Here's a link to an interview with the author of the first twin study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine:

    There is overwhelming evidence for a genetic tendency to be overweight. Some researchers say that as much as 70% of weight is accounted for by genes. What you eat matters, but it's by no means the whole story. Genes load the gun and processed foods pull the trigger. You don't have to read the NEJM to know this is true. Just think about all the thin people you know who eat junk food without consequence!

    Kessler is so extreme in his "biology doesn't count" position that he even says, on page 23, that there is no such thing as a setpoint: "I hypothesize that the point where our weight settles is primarily the result of motivation and availability - how much we want to seek out food and how readily we can obtain and get it."

    This is outrageously wrong. There are mountains of scientific evidence showing that the body attempts to maintain whatever weight it's been at for a period of time, speeding up or slowing down metabolism to compensate for over- or undereating. You can't change your weight by more than 10% without your setpoint pulling you back unless you gain or lose very slowly (and thus readjust your setpoint). How can Dr. Kessler not be familiar with this research?

    These errors matter because denying biology puts all blame for the difficulty in losing weight on the individual. This is untrue and unfair, and leads to self-esteem problems and fat prejudice. You can't tell by looking at someone exactly what they do or don't eat. I find it very disturbing that a book getting as wide readership as this one would spread such dangerous myths, and I cannot understand how someone with a medical degree can be so misinformed.

    My final criticism of the book is that its tools for dealing with emotional eating are fairly lame and not very helpful. But the factual problems are far more serious.

    If "End of Overeating" convinces some people to stop eating processed foods that are high in sugar, salt, and fat, then it will have done some good. But I worry about the misinformation it spreads. Denying the role of biology makes it harder to lose weight. You need to understand your biology and work with it, not pretend it doesn't matter.

    Sheryl Canter
    [...]...more info
  • Knowing WHY is half the battle
    Many of us have difficulty controlling our weight. Usually we have assumed that it was due either to something we couldn't control, such as our metabolism, or a total lack of self-control. This book shows how it is really a middle-ground between the two extremes.

    First, the author effectively dismisses the myth of the "metabolism" or "big boned" excuses that many of us use to excuse our over-eating. He shows that it is really a matter of calorie intake that is the root of our weight problems.

    Second, he shows how the food industry has engineered food that is overloaded with excessive calories and is designed to promote overeating in their insatiable drive for excessive profits. Through the use of multiple layers of salt, fat and sugar, they create foods designed to trigger the pleasure centers of our brains, releasing opioids that cause us to lose control and overeat.

    Finally, he shows how we can harness control over our eating by avoiding certain foods and by devising a planned response to food advertising and the presence of enticing foods, similar to the methodology employed by alcoholics to control their drinking. While we are not to blame for our susceptibility to the stimulus of enticing food and food advertising, we do have a choice as to how to react to the stimulus.

    This book has helped me gain some control over my eating habits and has caused me to view television advertisements for restaurants and foods in a new light. Even the ads for Nutrisystem are designed to stimulate overeating! Unlike alcohol and other drugs, we need food to survive, so we have to learn how to deal with these issues and consume the right foods in moderation, avoiding both the wrong foods and overeating. This book is a great help in that quest. Knowing WHY we do something is half the battle and helps us control our reactions to the stimuli.

    Ironically, this book made me think twice about my personal opposition to our nation's drug laws, both for legal (alcohol and tobacco) and illegal (marijuana, etc.) drugs. Seeing what a health problem has been created in this country by corporations engineering foods for maximum profits, I can only imagine the problems they would create if allowed to manufacture and sell drugs without any controls....more info
  • Finally something I can use
    Although this book was not quite what I expected I was definitely pleased with it. It made me more aware of what I was eating and why It is not preachy and it does not seem to have a hidden agenda (ie trying to get you to buy something else) I think awareness is just the link that was missing for me and it helped me to tap into my
    own behaviors and hidden ideas and thoughts which i relate to food...more info
  • "Certain foods seem to exert a magical pull."
    Dr. David A. Kessler's "The End of Overeating" examines how food industry executives tempt us to purchase their calorie-laden products. The author, a pediatrician and former FDA commissioner, admits that even he struggles with the urge to overindulge. Why would a health-conscious and knowledgeable individual such as Dr. Kessler respond to the lure of highly processed and nutritionally deficient foods? To answer this and other relevant questions, the author conducted a series of interviews with psychologists, researchers, neuroscientists, addiction counselors, food producers, and ordinary consumers. One person he spoke to is forty-year old Andrew, an accomplished journalist who is five foot nine and weights two hundred and forty five pounds. Andrew ruefully admits, "I wake up in the morning knowing that food is my enemy." He turns to candy, pizza, and other treats for "comfort, stimulation, sedation, happiness, [and] the chance to put fun in the day."

    Dr. Kessler maintains that part of problem stems from the fact that America has become a "carnival of delicious, fatty, salty, sugary, and ... accessible and cheap delights." Food industry officials spend a fortune designing products that condition us to stuff ourselves and come back for more. In the past four decades, busy Americans have grown increasingly addicted to fast food, portion sizes have grown, and many of us fail to get enough exercise. Childhood obesity is on the rise, which could lead to serious health problems down the road. To help us understand these phenomena, Dr. Kessler explains how and why our subconscious minds respond to certain stimuli, leading to habit-forming and self-destructive behavior that is difficult to change.

    The author describes the ways in which brain chemicals influence our actions and he includes scientific studies to illustrate his points. Unfortunately, he has a tendency to repeat himself, and some of what he tells us is fairly obvious. For example, it should come as no surprise that "palatable foods arouse our appetite." On the other hand, Dr. Kessler is right when he insists that we must understand our self-destructive impulses before we can devise effective tactics to counteract them. If nothing else, "The End of Overeating" relieves us of some of the guilt that we feel when we reach for that extra donut, since we have been conditioned to munch on tasty foods for years. Although this book begins as a scathing indictment of the food industry, it concludes with simple and practical strategies to help us regain control of what we eat....more info
  • no excuses after reading this book....
    If you're a diet junkie (like most Americans) whose attempts to keep the weight off have proved futile, read this book, and you'll know beyond a doubt just WHY you're such a failure. The facts Kessler presents about the brain-body collusion on the one hand, along with the unscruplous U.S. food industry's role in keeping our brains coked up on the other, are as clear as the fat, salt, and sugar layered in your Cheesecake Factory appetizer. Once you've been debriefed this thoroughly about the consequences of food-as-megadrug, there's really no way to pretend that you're defenseless against insatiable hunger. This should be the only "diet book" you'll ever need....more info
  • Food for Thought
    I read this book more than a month ago and have been surprised at how much I think about a few of the concepts the author put forth. Some of the points he makes are well-known (such as the exponential size increases of foods) and the book reads better as a research paper on overeating than a "how to stop" self-help book.

    The author made several points that I continue to think about. One is that we used to eat three meals a day. Now we eat and drink almost constantly. I now notice fellow shoppers in non-food stores (like clothing or hardware) who are slurping their XL Cokes or snacking on candy or chips. It really is amazing how little time we go between eating.

    Another point made was that we temporarily obsess about a food. Think about something you love, like ice cream. Even though you weren't hungry 10 minutes ago, knowing that there is ice cream nearby may make you nearly unable to think about anything else until you have some.

    When I was reading this book, I was displeased with how much the author blamed the food industry for our poor eating habits. There was a lot of criticism for the industry making foods that hit our triggers making us want to eat more of them. As a business person, I thought it was only good business that companies made products that people want to buy. I had a spirited argument about this with a friend, so I guess there are(at least) two sides to the argument.
    ...more info
  • A Book That Will Change Lives
    I have been listening to the audio version of Dr. Kessler's book this weekend and am going to order the hard copy now. I finally understand why I think the way I do about food and am surprised to learn that the food industry is setting us up for failure.


    ...more info
  • Excellent Book Provides Information That Will Help You Lose Weight
    This book is written in a clear manner that is just plain enjoyable to read and keep reading. This book discusses the how and why of why people overeat. The author a former FDA commisioner is an excellent writer. After reading this book readers will gain understanding of why they overeat. Using knowledge gained I have already lost 10 pounds without working very hard at it. No need to describe in detail the contents here since others have already done it. If you are overweight this book is a MUST read....more info
  • Dieting? Read this ASAP!
    Dr. Kessler's author credentials are impeccable: he was commissioner of the FDA during two presidents (of both parties), served as dean of two prestigious medical schools, and worked as a pediatrician. But more than that, he too has had trouble with his weight and controlling his appetite. The issue of overeating is not just an academic curiosity to him. But unlike you and me, he has the resources and background to go find out what is going on.

    In the 1980s some researchers noticed a sudden spike in body weight across the USA. At first they assumed it was an error in the data, but it turned out to be very much real, and to this day the weight gain continues to escalate. For the first time in human history, something has gone terribly wrong with our ability to regulate our caloric intake, and it's happening nationwide.

    This book investigates why Americans are overeating, and also offers some solutions.

    The writing is clear, interesting, and downright fun to read. Even my husband who doesn't have much interest in the topic glanced at some pages and got sucked in. Dr. Kessler is not at all accusatory or hysterical. He simply and calmly investigates and tells us what he found: what the food industry is doing, and what effect that has on our brains, our bodies, and our culture. The issues are all rigorously investigated. We get information from individuals struggling with food cravings, restaurant industry insiders, researchers in fields like nutrition, psychology, neural behavior, and addiction.

    I believe the topic covered in "The End of Overeating" is crucial. More than half the country has a serious, nearly narcotic-level addiction to overeating, and it's even worse for children growing up in this environment. Dr. Kessler's book is a brilliant expose and explanation.

    In my opinion, this is essential reading. ...more info
  • Why you probably eat the way you do if you overeat.
    Most people don't realize that most food is designed to force them to want to overeat. This surprises a great many folks. Many food chains and companies specifically engineer food to have a ratio of fat, starch, and sugar - enough to be palatable to be inhaled. The more you eat and the faster you eat, the more you buy.

    Food designers specifically take these things into holy consideration. The "holy trinity" of fat, sugar, and starch is deployed in multiple applications to make food appealing. The author discusses how some things are designed so that the texture is perfect and entices you to overeat. Things like nachos seem simple and unassuming, but they are built with each layer in mind, so there's a pleasing "mouthfeel" that you enjoy experiencing and keep wanting to eat.

    The end of the book departs from those things to discuss how to undo much of the psychological conditioning that advertising has implanted in us in regards to food. It provides tips and tricks, as well as techniques to use when faced with voluminous eating.

    It's not your fault until you know, they say. And after reading this, you'll know. It's a vital tool for anyone who's struggled with their weight, and eating better...especially those people who can't figure out why it is precisely so difficult sometimes....more info
  • Superb Book On How and Why People Overeat As Well As How to Stop Overeating
    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.

    Part Four, The Theory of Treatment, talks about theoretical ways people can break the overeating habit.

    Part Five, Food Rehab, offers practical ways individuals can stop overeating. The advice is great.

    Part Six, The End Of Overeating, talks about the challenges ahead to end overeating. While it will not be easy, each individual has the power to end his or her overeating despite roadblocks created by the food industry or our own physical or mental makeup.

    This is a great book that has started me thinking differently about food. It is well written and the best on the subject I have ever read.
    ...more info
  • How you are manipulated with food
    For the most part The End of Overeating is a look at hunger and satiety from a psychological and nuero perspective. What is happening in your head when you eat food, see food, think about food, and how various types of food affect your body differently. The axis of food evil according to Kessler is salt, fat, and sugar. He points out that most of the processed food we eat nowadays takes advantage of this irresistible combination.
    Most of the book is a look at scientific studies and a discussion of their implications, which often seems to retread the same points. Part of the middle of the book analyzes typical restaurant fare we usually see at places like Chili's and TGIF's. I found this part to be the most interesting, but sadly it was relatively small....more info
  • Not A Book About Food, Not a Book About Diets, FINALLY a Book About Appetite!
    And that's what interests me. I could read books all day about food production, food content, the powers of healthy food and not become involved with them.

    This book starts where I start -- APPETITE. The hunger for satisfaction. The cravings for foods with sugars, fats, and salts.

    God, I could go for a burger right now.

    The author's tone is breezy, his topic is serious, his level of committment is sincere, and the amount of information contained in his little book is awesome.

    Human hunger + corporate greed + products that magnify hunger = fat people!
    ...more info


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