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The End of Overeating: Taking Control of Our Insatiable Appetite Paperback – 1 Apr 2010


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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; 1st edition (1 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014104781X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141047812
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 195,663 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

Fascinating . . . an exploration of us (New York Times)

Disturbing, thought-provoking, and important (Anthony Bourdain, author of 'Kitchen Confidential')

No ordinary diet book (New Scientist)

The End of Overeating is an invaluable contribution to the national conversation about the catastrophe that is the modern American diet (Michael Pollan, author of In Defense of Food)

About the Author

David A. Kessler, MD, served as commissioner of the United States Food and Drug Administration. He is a paediatrician and has been the dean of the medical schools at Yale and the University of California, San Francisco. Under his direction, the FDA announced a number of new programs, including the following: the regulation of the marketing and sale of tobacco products to children; nutrition labelling for food and preventive controls to improve food safety. The recipient of many honours for his work in public health, in April 2008 Dr Kessler was named the '2008 National Hero' by the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley 'for his leadership as the nation's top drug regulator and his courage in challenging the US tobacco industry'.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Bluebell TOP 500 REVIEWER on 6 May 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
David Kessler has undertaken a personal odyssey to try and understand why he has had difficulty resisting processed foods and controlling his weight like so many in the Western World. He has done a great deal of delving into basic research and attended food industry conferences in his quest. I found the earlier chapters more interesting than the later ones as in the former he reveals just how heedless food manufacturers are of peoples' health: profit and volume sales being the only driving force in their strategies. The food industry seems little different from tobacco industry. Both pretty despicable. There's also a lot of interesting stuff about animal research indicating that junk food is not far short of drugs of addiction in the lengths that rodents will go to eat it.

The later chapters of the book deal more with how to resist the lure of high sugar, salt and fat foods that are the mainstay of evidently irresistible junk food. As someone who has been involved in researching food and physiological responses I felt that his analysis of the available research focused too heavily on the psychological motivations for over-eating and too little on the physiological links between the digestive system and the brain. There are receptors in the digestive system that detect nutrients and send signals to the brain to indicate that food has been consumed and the kind of food. Manufactured foods contain novel fats, for example, not found in natural foods and, as receptors are very specific to the shape of the molecules they monitor, the signal that a load of unnatural fat had arrived in the digestive system would not be registered and the eater may go on eating as the normal satiety signal has not kicked in.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By sainte-carmen on 24 July 2009
Format: Hardcover
Kessler's book lays out a compelling argument for how some in the food industry are developing foods not to nourish or satisfy our basic needs but rather to trigger compulsive overeating. His analogy to the tobacco industry is convincing. While many people may persist in the belief that people get fat because they're either lazy or greedy, Kessler accurately argues that the chemistry of some types of food, i.e. its fat, sugar and/or salt content, set many people up, in spite of their best intentions, for binge eating.

This isn't a diet, but the information in this book may be enough to empower many people in their battle against the bulge. Highly recommended.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Kate Lund on 12 April 2010
Format: Paperback
This is a really intelligent book that tackles both the food industry, as well as helping us as individuals tackle our overeating.

David Kessler has got great credentials, and he has obviously has access to extensive research. I was worried that the book might be really scientific, but actually he explained the science in a really clear, approachable way that was perfect for a layperson like me. And what science! Unlike other books about dieting and healthy living, The End of Overeating makes clear that the food industries have rewired our brains to make us more addicted to their food products, and that the blame isn't just with the individual. It's pretty disgusting the stuff they get away with. Pre-masticated food? Gross.

Saying that, Kessler is clear that we can't just wash our hands of the whole business and that we have to take responsibility. As he makes clear, you CAN change your automatic behaviour patterns and a achieve a 'critical perceptual shift' when looking at certain types of food. Just by teaching me what is happening when I look at the biscuits or want to scrape my plate at a restaurant, I feel now that I'm in a much stronger position to reclaim my eating habits before it goes out of control.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By hfffoman TOP 500 REVIEWER on 25 April 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book does some things very well but has some annoying features.

The writing style is simple, clear and persuasive, making the book easy and quick to read. Some books written in such a style are based on mumbo jumbo science but this is thoroughly backed up by academic work. There is a difference between pure charisma and good quality presentation of rigorous ideas. We can debate which category particular diets fall into but this book falls squarely into the second category. There is nothing mumbo jumbo here.

The book is divided into half a dozen sections. I found the first section the best. It gives a better explanation than I have seen anywhere else of why we overeat and why it is hard to stop. Once you understand that you can't stop eating cake for reasons similar to why people can't stop smoking, you will be able to start thinking seriously about what you need to do to break your habit.

A lot of good scientific research on overeating, and related areas of psychology, is clearly and simply summarised. One experiment I particularly liked showed that many birds, if you introduce a large rogue egg into their nest, will choose to sit on the rogue one at the expense of their own, even if the rogue one is so large it must have come from a much larger species. This happens simply because there has never been a need for a mechanism for limiting the size of egg a bird will choose. Our brains do something similar with food that has lots of fat and sugar or salt.

The second section summarises the American food industry's techniques and practices. He successfully demonstrates that the industry tries to maximise its profit, tries to get its customers to eat more, and tries to serve what they most like to eat. Wow.
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