Regular readers of Natural News, as well as scores of others in the U.S. and around the world, have long since known of the health dangers of junk food – foods that can most generally be described as those which contain empty calories and excessive amounts of substances known to cause harm to the body.
But why does junk food remain so popular? What makes tens of millions of people consume it daily, even if they are well aware of its health and dietary pitfalls?
Well, part of the reason is by design – that is, the way such foods were designed to appeal to our senses. Think of the old Lay’s potato chip commercials;
“No one can eat just one.”
In many respects, that’s what junk food does: It is designed to create a sort of can’t resist mindset, which is a) why junk food makers have thrived, even in a culture of health; and b) why so many Americans (and increasingly, citizens of other countries) are seeing epidemics of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other medical conditions.
Digest that for a moment and consider the following examples, as laid out by Michael Moss, author of Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us:
Ever wonder why so many people can’t put down a bag of Cheetos?
The answer to that is simple – Cheetos were designed to be consumed by the bag/pound, not eaten slowly, over days, a few at a time. In fact, some food scientists believe the Cheeto is a modern miracle, of sorts, in terms of pure junk food. Writes Moss:
“This,” Witherly [a food scientist] said, “is one of the most marvelously constructed foods on the planet, in terms of pure pleasure.” He ticked off a dozen attributes of the Cheetos that make the brain say more. But the one he focused on most was the puff’s uncanny ability to melt in the mouth. “It’s called vanishing caloric density,” Witherly said. “If something melts down quickly, your brain thinks that there’s no calories in it…you can just keep eating it forever.”
The “cheese that goes crunch” now comes in no fewer than 17 flavors.
Junk food makers have perfected a process known as subverting “sensory-specific satiety.” According to the author, this is a key food industry concept that can create a “tendency for big, distinct flavors to overwhelm the brain, which responds by depressing your desire to have more.” He writes that the key to avoid that natural tendency is to create junk food recipes that circumvent it:
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