Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us

Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us

by Michael Moss
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Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss

The Atlantic • The Huffington Post • Men’s Journal • MSN (U.K.) • Kirkus Reviews • Publishers Weekly


Every year, the average American eats thirty-three pounds of cheese and seventy pounds of sugar. Every day, we ingest 8,500 milligrams of salt, double the recommended amount, almost none of which comes from the shakers on our table. It comes from processed food, an industry that hauls in $1 trillion in annual sales. In Salt Sugar Fat, Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative reporter Michael Moss shows how we ended up here. Featuring examples from Kraft, Coca-Cola, Lunchables, Frito-Lay, Nestlé, Oreos, Capri Sun, and many more, Moss’s explosive, empowering narrative is grounded in meticulous, eye-opening research. He takes us into labs where scientists calculate the “bliss point” of sugary beverages, unearths marketing techniques taken straight from tobacco company playbooks, and talks to concerned insiders who make startling confessions. Just as millions of “heavy users” are addicted to salt, sugar, and fat, so too are the companies that peddle them. You will never look at a nutrition label the same way again.
Praise for Salt Sugar Fat
“[Michael] Moss has written a Fast Food Nation for the processed food industry. Burrowing deep inside the big food manufacturers, he discovered how junk food is formulated to make us eat more of it and, he argues persuasively, actually to addict us.”—Michael Pollan
“If you had any doubt as to the food industry’s complicity in our obesity epidemic, it will evaporate when you read this book.”The Washington Post
“Vital reading for the discerning food consumer.”The Wall Street Journal
“The chilling story of how the food giants have seduced everyone in this country . . . Michael Moss understands a vital and terrifying truth: that we are not just eating fast food when we succumb to the siren song of sugar, fat, and salt. We are fundamentally changing our lives—and the world around us.”—Alice Waters
“Propulsively written [and] persuasively argued . . . an exactingly researched, deeply reported work of advocacy journalism.”The Boston Globe

“A remarkable accomplishment.”The New York Times Book Review

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780679604778
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/26/2013
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 19,411
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Michael Moss was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting in 2010, and was a finalist for the prize in 1999 and 2006. He is also the recipient of a Loeb Award and an Overseas Press Club citation. Before coming to The New York Times, he was a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, Newsday, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two sons.

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Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 66 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Remember when you did not eat in a car, ate breakfast at home, and desserts were not served every night? These companies are slowly killing each of us. This book gets me mad and I will eat healthier as a result of knowing these food companies do not care about any of us.
DiiMI More than 1 year ago
Michael Moss's Salt Sugar Fat is an enlightening and thought provoking study in the role of big business for helping to create a craving in this country for processed foods that are overly saturated with fats, salts and sugars. Why? To make their products the most popular, creating more demand which in turn creates larger revenues! With their 'brand' established, the public is ripe for the new, improved version, slightly different versions, new products with 'tweeked' flavors. Did you know there is some magical number for sweetness? Hit that number and test 'victims' LOVE the taste! Same for fats and salt! With so many households with both parents working, so many single mothers working, convenience seems to reign supreme over nutrition. Once our taste buds get hold of the 'enhanced' foods, we find an apple just plain boring! Imagine what kids think? Their taste buds are programmed by outside influences-sugary, salty, fatty foods you can eat on the run. The U.S. government looked on for years before starting a very slow campaign towards eating right. Nice. Job. This is a must read for anyone who eats! Tony the Tiger is NOT your friend! This edition was provided by NetGalley and Random House in exchange for my honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While it is true every person has a responsibility to eat "right" and exercise, the point is that the industries are engineering the food in a way that makes it almost impossible to stop once you start. When theystart making multi faceted kosher salt so the flavor will stay in your mouth longer, there is something offensivly wrong with that. It isnt honest to deceive consumers like that. Ultimatly it has to fall on the individual, this book has enlightened me and i will be much more cautious in putting my faith in these companies who have been a childhood staple. This book is a definate must read. This book was also featured on Dr Oz and his examples were really quite amazing.
mybabyboylucas More than 1 year ago
I an RN who cares for people with illnesses directly related to what the have eaten over the past 40 or 50 years.  Heart attacks, congestive hear failure, stroke, diabetes, colon cancer, peripheral vascular disease, morbid obesity and many more.  There is governmental protection of the food giants that allows billions of profits annually.  Yet Medicare is sinking fast due to the explosion of healthcare required to pay for these preventable diseases.  And healthcare providers are being punished by reducing and withholding reimbursement if we can't improve their health and prevent rehospitalization.  What's wrong with this picture?  I am held to account for not fixing something the government allowed, and even encouraged?
Minnesota_ReaderAN More than 1 year ago
This book should be required reading for anyone wanting to change their eating habits and living a healthier life. The system is rigged against you. They bombard you with advertising and also manipulate the food to get you hooked (in my opinion). After reading this book I realized I need to take charge of my eating habits and think more about what I eat.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My brother, whom I always assumed was a little insane or "out there," has been saying for years that food companies add things to food to make them addictive. Not only is he right, but it's much worse than even he assumed. If you have a problem with your addiction to processed food, this book will at least open your eyes to the reality of what you are putting in your body. It might even make it less appetizing enough to help you make a change and get off the crap. So fascinating and readable as well!
Peter2016 More than 1 year ago
I think on some level I knew a lot of what he writes about, but nonetheless, having it all laid out there was eye-opening. Moss is a great journalist and this reads very well.
NBMinneapois More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed reading this book though it was a disorganized read, found myself wondering if the author was going to get to the point. Well researched. I eat pretty healthy but, like most busy Americans, rely on cheap, convenient foods. In the couple weeks since finishing this book, I find I am more mindful of what I am buying and eating. And, I think the exposure to the science (marketing and food engineering) gave me some tools to control myself when I succumb to my trigger foods. Somehow that knowledge that these foods are truly addictive has helped me curb my cravings. And, as I have known for many years, when I abstain completely, my cravings do go away.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an interesting book on how the giant food companies have been able to "pull the wool" over our eyes for so many years. It is also disheartening to have quite a few of the CEO's, etc. of these companies say they don't eat the food they market. What does that tell you about their products? If they don't eat them why should we!
drakevaughn More than 1 year ago
Not only should everyone in America read Salt Sugar Fat, but it should be required. Moss details the processed food industry, breaking down its contribution to the modern obesity crisis. The reporting is meticulous in detailing the rise of the corporate food giants and the tricks they use to entice consumers to their unhealthy products. Moss exposes how processed foods are loaded with extras to create an addictive bliss point, making them almost drug-like in their allure. Not only that, but he likewise details the excessive advertising and marketing (much directed at children) used to lure customers. Worst of all, he even gets some food executives to admit they don’t eat their company’s own products. The book leads to the unavoidable conclusion that the processed food industry’s race to the bottom (at Wall Street’s behest) has caused a public health crisis in America. Amazing five star reporting. By far, Salt Sugar Fat is the best book I’ve read this year.  
SoftRain More than 1 year ago
Good info and background on how the food giants got to be how they are. You will see their not-so-pretty path, our gov't's support and involvement, and learn at the same time some specific results of their tactics on our health and bodies. They knew what they were feeding us resulted in health problems, i.e., heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, etc., but they merrily and aggressively pursued their path of micro-studying our habits, likes/dislikes, what we want and need, to lead our health down the road to perdition so that they could/can exceed last yr's profits. What do we hear on the news today? "Shame on you, public, you need to exercise more." Well written and good read.
Mybookreview More than 1 year ago
Engaging writing gives the reader the feel of getting the “inside” information as we tag along with the author as he interviews processed food industry company top officials, advertisers and scientists, and visits research labs. The author reveals how the industry adjusts sugar, salt and fat in processed foods and beverages so that the consumer’s brain reaches the “bliss point” and the person craves more and more---thus resulting in health problems such as obesity. There is also a lot of information about how products are designed to be convenient and visually appealing, and where they are placed in supermarkets to entice buyers. The book essentially reveals how the processed food and beverage industry manipulates and misleads consumers into purchasing and eating unhealthful products so that the companies can meet the demands of Wall Street analysts for greater and greater profits. The book’s shortcoming is that it doesn’t tell readers what they can do, nor does it provide information about what health professionals and advocates are already doing.
JanetS9 More than 1 year ago
Great Read! Highly recommend! This is well written and really explains well how we got to this place with highly processed food, plus how your body responds to salt sugar and fat. I work in the industry, too, and I fully appreciate the business side and evolution that covered well meaning individuals colliding with need for profit. Additionally, taking advantage of poorer consumers and families added a more concerning element. It made me want to buy a farm before I was through. with it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Telling story of how the huge processed food industry has been decieving the public for years and became one of the major contributors to obesity in this country.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent investigative reporting. So often books of this type will say all they have to say that's relevent in the first third of the book. Not so here. Powerful reporting from start to finish.
Escape314 More than 1 year ago
Could have been said in many less words
popscipopulizer More than 1 year ago
*A full executive summary of this book will be available at newbooksinbrief dot com, on or before Tuesday, April 16, 2013. You open up a bag of chips intending to eat only a few handfuls. You find the chips tasting quite good, and a few handfuls turns into a few more. Just one more... o.k., last one... definitely the last one. A few minutes later you find yourself staring down at an empty bag. Then your stomach starts to hurt--then your heart. The guilt isn't far behind. Who among us hasn't experienced this at one time or another? This is junk food in a nutshell: it tastes great (practically irresistible) and is very convenient, but if you indulge too much (which sometimes seems all too easy), it's not too good for you. All of this has an easy explanation, it's right there on the label: impressive portions of salt, sugar and fat, the junk food trifecta. Each has its own appeal, and each is very inexpensive (which explains why it's in our food), but over the years each has also been implicated in some of our most common and serious conditions and diseases, including obesity, heart disease and diabetes. Unfortunately, the junk food trifecta is not only popping up in our junk food, it is increasingly being featured in virtually all of the processed foods that we eat--from chips and soda, to canned food and prepared meals, to cake and ice-cream. And as salt, sugar and fat have become more common in the foods that we eat, the conditions and illnesses associated with their abuse have reached epidemic proportions. In his new book Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us journalist Michael Moss takes us behind the labels and explores the history and practices of the processed food industry--a story that features the rise of salt, sugar and fat, and the deterioration of our health. The journalistic expose is inherently a tension-filled genre. On the one hand, there is often an issue of real public concern at play; but on the other hand, it is ever in the interest of the journalist to inflate the controversy (and the blame). Moss does do a fairly good job of steering clear of these traps--for the most part--though the objective reader will occasionally rankle at Moss' presentation, and his choice of words and focus. On the whole, I've come away with a renewed interest and concern in just what goes into the food that I eat, and how much salt, sugar and fat it contains--and this, I think, is very valuable in itself. A full executive summary of the book will be available at newbooksinbrief dot com, on or before Tuesday, April 16. A podcast discussion of the book will be available shortly thereafter.
Anonymous 14 days ago
Well written and investigated.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Therre was lot of research which was nice and though it took me a while to get through it definatey has helped me to understand how the corporation works without demonizing them. Especially since i was a child when a lot of the commercial social moves were put into action in the 1990s an 2000s. It is nice to hear an explanation about the shifts that i have grown up absorbing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was fantastic. I finished it weeks ago, and I still can't stop talking about it, spouting out facts from the book till I wear my friends down and they agree to also read the book. The only thing keeping it from getting 5 stars from me is that the book is at times repetative, and occasionally Moss seems to get on a soapbox (and possibly jump to conclusions - possibly not; his rants may be backed up by facts he found while researching the book, but those facts aren't cited in the notes). However, I still consider this an excellent book that I recommend to anyone and everyone.
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Everyone should read this book!!!