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Hooked
Cover of Hooked
Hooked
Food, Free Will, and How the Food Giants Exploit Our Addictions
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Salt Sugar Fat comes a “gripping” (The Wall Street Journal) exposé of how the processed food industry exploits our evolutionary instincts, the emotions we associate with food, and legal loopholes in their pursuit of profit over public health. 
 
“The processed food industry has managed to avoid being lumped in with Big Tobacco—which is why Michael Moss’s new book is so important.”—Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit

Everyone knows how hard it can be to maintain a healthy diet. But what if some of the decisions we make about what to eat are beyond our control? Is it possible that food is addictive, like drugs or alcohol? And to what extent does the food industry know, or care, about these vulnerabilities? In Hooked, Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative reporter Michael Moss sets out to answer these questions—and to find the true peril in our food.
 
Moss uses the latest research on addiction to uncover what the scientific and medical communities—as well as food manufacturers—already know: that food, in some cases, is even more addictive than alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs. Our bodies are hardwired for sweets, so food giants have developed fifty-six types of sugar to add to their products, creating in us the expectation that everything should be cloying; we’ve evolved to prefer fast, convenient meals, hence our modern-day preference for ready-to-eat foods. Moss goes on to show how the processed food industry—including major companies like Nestlé, Mars, and Kellogg’s—has tried not only to evade this troubling discovery about the addictiveness of food but to actually exploit it. For instance, in response to recent dieting trends, food manufacturers have simply turned junk food into junk diets, filling grocery stores with “diet” foods that are hardly distinguishable from the products that got us into trouble in the first place. As obesity rates continue to climb, manufacturers are now claiming to add ingredients that can effortlessly cure our compulsive eating habits. 
 
A gripping account of the legal battles, insidious marketing campaigns, and cutting-edge food science that have brought us to our current public health crisis, Hooked lays out all that the food industry is doing to exploit and deepen our addictions, and shows us why what we eat has never mattered more.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Salt Sugar Fat comes a “gripping” (The Wall Street Journal) exposé of how the processed food industry exploits our evolutionary instincts, the emotions we associate with food, and legal loopholes in their pursuit of profit over public health. 
 
“The processed food industry has managed to avoid being lumped in with Big Tobacco—which is why Michael Moss’s new book is so important.”—Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit

Everyone knows how hard it can be to maintain a healthy diet. But what if some of the decisions we make about what to eat are beyond our control? Is it possible that food is addictive, like drugs or alcohol? And to what extent does the food industry know, or care, about these vulnerabilities? In Hooked, Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative reporter Michael Moss sets out to answer these questions—and to find the true peril in our food.
 
Moss uses the latest research on addiction to uncover what the scientific and medical communities—as well as food manufacturers—already know: that food, in some cases, is even more addictive than alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs. Our bodies are hardwired for sweets, so food giants have developed fifty-six types of sugar to add to their products, creating in us the expectation that everything should be cloying; we’ve evolved to prefer fast, convenient meals, hence our modern-day preference for ready-to-eat foods. Moss goes on to show how the processed food industry—including major companies like Nestlé, Mars, and Kellogg’s—has tried not only to evade this troubling discovery about the addictiveness of food but to actually exploit it. For instance, in response to recent dieting trends, food manufacturers have simply turned junk food into junk diets, filling grocery stores with “diet” foods that are hardly distinguishable from the products that got us into trouble in the first place. As obesity rates continue to climb, manufacturers are now claiming to add ingredients that can effortlessly cure our compulsive eating habits. 
 
A gripping account of the legal battles, insidious marketing campaigns, and cutting-edge food science that have brought us to our current public health crisis, Hooked lays out all that the food industry is doing to exploit and deepen our addictions, and shows us why what we eat has never mattered more.
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  • From the book Chapter One

    “What’s Your Definition?”

    Steve Parrish didn’t smoke until he started working for Philip Morris at age forty.

    This was 1990. Cigarettes were the main order of business at the company’s headquarters on Park Avenue in Manhattan, just south of Grand Central Station. The conference room tables were adorned with ashtrays and bowls filled with packs of cigarettes. The ceilings had fans to disperse the smoke. The walls sported images of the Marlboro Man and Virginia Slims and the company’s other iconic cigarette brands.

    When Parrish traveled to Richmond, Virginia, where a Philip Morris factory three football fields long turned out 580 million cigarettes a day, it was all smoking all the time, from the receptionist who would take a slow drag before she greeted you, to the free packs that visitors twenty-­one and older could take home along with a bumper sticker that read “I support smokers’ rights.”

    Parrish was the general counsel of Philip Morris, where it was his job to defend the company in public and in the courts at a time when cigarettes were under attack, and that gave him lots of stress to deal with. Cigarettes soothed his nerves, though there were other aspects of smoking beyond the nicotine that he found compelling. “There are times when I like fiddling with the cigarette before I even light it,” he explained back then. “There are times when I like to see the smoke go up. I like the sensation at the back of my throat.”

    But the most notable thing about Parrish’s smoking was how often he didn’t. He didn’t smoke at home. He didn’t smoke on weekends. Now and then, he would light up in a bar, but outside of the company’s offices, he felt no compulsion to smoke. Which seemed, at the time, to contradict the idea that cigarettes were addictive.

    He was not alone in this. Surveys found that one in five smokers had five or fewer cigarettes a day; some even skipped days altogether. This phenomenon helped form the bulwark of Philip Morris’s defense against efforts to hold the company accountable for smoking-­related deaths. As dangerous as cigarettes might be to one’s health, how could they be called addictive if millions of people used them so casually?

    At least, that’s what the company argued back then. Philip Morris had lawyers on staff who compiled thick dossiers on addiction to use as talking points in court. Some of the studies they collected presented smoking as a matter of choice, in which weak self-­control prevented people from being able to quit.

    Philip Morris also had staff scientists on hand to counter research that compared smoking to abusing drugs. When one such paper emerged from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, quoting addicts who said it was easier for them to quit heroin than cigarettes, a Philip Morris researcher wrote a rebuttal that called this a false equivalency. “What does this statement mean?” the scientist scoffed. “Do heroin abusers find it difficult to give up soft-­drinks, coffee, or sex?”

    Philip Morris also had a chief executive who, in 1994, was willing to climb Capitol Hill and, in front of cameras and under oath, affirm the company’s position. “I believe nicotine is not addictive,” William Campbell said in that highly publicized appearance. He was joined at the table by six other tobacco company chiefs, all of whom readily agreed on this point.

    Indeed, smoking was no more addictive than Twinkies, one of the CEOs said in that same congressional inquiry, and Philip Morris...
About the Author-
  • Michael Moss is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter formerly with The New York Times, a keynote speaker, and an occasional guest on shows like CBS This Morning, Dr. Oz, CNN's The Lead, All Things Considered, and The Daily Show.
Reviews-
  • Kirkus

    December 15, 2020
    A hard-hitting follow-up to Salt Sugar Fat (2013). Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Moss is a powerhouse when it comes to research and analysis, and much like his contemporary Michael Lewis, he possesses the ability to maintain a solid narrative arc. Characteristically, the author opens his deep dive back into the processed food industry with a story about a Brooklyn schoolgirl whose craving for McDonald's led to morbid obesity during adolescence. In addition to examining the chemistry of food, appetite, and addiction (highly prevalent), Moss breaks down the complex and contentious arguments at the intersection of the food industry and the law. More disturbingly, he explores the often devious and potentially dangerous ways that manufacturers manipulate foods to trigger addictive behavior, spark sense memories of foods from our childhoods, and treat addiction and dependence as a corporate strategy--much like the tobacco industry. The author covers much of the same ground as his previous book, but readers will be engaged and shocked by the sheer velocity of the process for changing foods to boost consumption. "In a sense, we've become unwitting allies to the processed food industry, and not just by falling for their marketing tricks," he writes. "We've allowed them to tap into and take advantage of all the biology we inherited from our forebears, including our love for variety and the cheapest source of calories, as well as the dramatic shifts in our work and family life that have played right into the companies' hands. When we changed the way we ate, they changed their food to exploit that." From maltodextrin to trans fats to a diet industry largely owned and controlled by the same companies manufacturing unhealthy, processed foods, Moss takes a second shot at corporate villains and once again finds a soulless industry hard at work. Another cleareyed inquiry into the companies that feed us, hook us, and leave us wanting more.

    COPYRIGHT(2020) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    January 18, 2021
    Food is a drug, and its manufacturers are tempting consumers into addiction, according to this contentious exposé by Pulitzer-winning journalist Moss (Salt Sugar Fat). The author explores the science behind the notion that food is addictive in its effects on the body and mind: MRI scans show the brain lighting up at the thought of a cheeseburger much like it does at a snort of cocaine, while sugar, salt, and fat activate receptors that prompt the brain to generate a rush of pleasure. Moss argues that Kraft Heinz, Coca Cola, Nestlé, and fast food companies exploit weaknesses to stoke gluttony by adding copious amounts of sugar, salt, and fat to their products, and tantalizing consumers with novel artificial flavors. He also shows how advertising can manipulate memory: in one experiment, subjects viewed a Wendy’s ad that “played up the restaurant’s playgrounds for kids,” urging consumers to relive those memories—most subjects didn’t catch that Wendy’s never had playgrounds. With his usual blend of lucid exposition and sharp-eyed reportage from corporate test kitchens, supermarket aisles, and fast-food counters, Moss provocatively suggests that human will-power is helpless against corporate puppeteers toying with humans’ neurochemical and digestive strings. Readers are sure to find much fascinating—and frightening—food for thought in this fast-paced survey.

  • Booklist

    February 15, 2021
    Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Moss previously exposed the food industry's manipulation of consumer behavior in Salt Sugar Fat (2013). Here, his ""aim is to lay out all that the companies have done to exploit our addiction to food so that we might reverse engineer our independence."" To center his addiction query, Moss looks to the tobacco industry's relatively recent admission that their products are addictive, and to understand why we might be primed to rely on fast, cheap, caloric food he goes much further back, to see what we can surmise about our evolving tastes from the four-million-year-old skeleton of our ancestor, Ardi. Along the way, Moss also investigates human biology and genetics, food's ties to memory, and lots of scientific and food-industry studies. Rather than a dieting manual, this is a guide to healthy disillusionment. Moss reminds us that when it comes to these multinational corporations, ""a commanding force in our lives going to great lengths to maintain the belief that our disordered eating is on us,"" our awareness as consumers is priceless.

    COPYRIGHT(2021) Booklist, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    March 1, 2021

    In this latest work, investigative journalist Moss, author of the best seller Salt Sugar Fat, offers a critical look at the food industry, and how political interests have manipulated and manufactured our eating habits. Ranging from human evolution of nutritional preferences and digestion to the science behind addiction to marketing and law, Moss deftly covers the complex landscape behind the convenience of fast food and its hold over consumers. The author brings his expertise as an investigative reporter to list how mass food production impacts our lives in ways we might not even realize, from additives (such as new chemical compounds), conveniences (packaging that consumers can hold in one hand and place in a cup holder) and marketing (commercials, colors, and phrasing) intended to drive consumers to purchase more and more. Along the way, he highlights several of the legal, social, and public health concerns surrounding these unseemly industry practices and makes the case that the workings of the food industry are intertwined with our declining public health. VERDICT Similar to his previous book, the latest by Moss will draw in fans of investigative journalism, and all interested in learning more about the inner workings of the companies we support.--Rachel M. Minkin, Michigan State Univ. Libs., East Lansing

    Copyright 2021 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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Hooked
Hooked
Food, Free Will, and How the Food Giants Exploit Our Addictions
Michael Moss
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