How Did Americans Become Addicted to Eating?

“Why can’t I stop myself from overeating?” This is a question that for many cannot be answered simply by a lack of motivation, or genetics. It is the feeling of wanting to eat that last bite of dessert, even though you know that you were full halfway through dinner. Logically, you know that your body does not need any more food, but there seems to be an internal force that fixates on how good that next bite will taste.

David Kessler, in his New York Times Bestseller The End of Overeating, describes how the American food industry constructed and continues to profit from this dissociation. The former FDA commissioner lays out the science behind high-caloric food and the brain’s reward systems that has led to an epidemic of overeating. Although more than a decade has passed since this book was published, millions of people continue to struggle with chronic overeating that for some has led to uncontrollable weight. The compulsion to overeat often does not neatly fit into any defined eating disorder. As a result, individuals are blamed for their own lack of motivation to control their weight.

Restraining yourself from eating junk food is difficult because that is how it was engineered. This is something that Dr. Kessler writes about firsthand. Regardless of the numerous studies that reveal how sugar and fat hijack your brain’s reward system to crave more, even the former FDA commissioner and physician admits that its pull can sometimes be too much to resist. In this first installment of a multi-part series on the science behind why we overeat, we highlight the lessons from The End of Overeating and Dr. Kessler’s own love/hate affair with food.

Excerpted from Forbes

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