The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite

Original broadcast date: July 12, 2009

We like to believe that we are a rational species. If, the assumption goes, we are presented with information that is cogent, specific and valid, we will respond by incorporating these ideas for the betterment of our lives. What we decide to eat and drink is a world onto itself. Bombarded daily with dos and don’ts, benefits and health risks, exploding obesity rates and a myriad of eating and body image disorders, we are witness to the 24-hour health and nutrition treadmill that does not allow one to stop and digest the wheat from the chaff.

It comes as no surprise that even the very people who do well constructed and rigorous food psychology and food science research suffer the same travails as the rest of the public. Indeed, we are witness and succumb to the power of the succulent, gooey, warm, soft chocolate chip cookie that we believe we can resist but for a few minutes. Our brains have other ideas.

In his new best-selling book, The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite, Dr. David Kessler investigates how a combination of salt, fat, sugar and umami or food texture are designed to exert tremendous influence on our decision to consume them despite the rational part of our brain that screams “NO!” Why do we behave this way, what is it in our evolutionary biology that makes us ripe for the taking? Can you say no to the chocolate chip cookie or that plate of steaming French Fries?

  • Dr. David Kessler, MD, JD, Professor of Pediatrics and Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). He was Dean of the School of Medicine and the Vice Chancellor for Medical Affairs at UCSF from 2003 through 2007 and Dean of the Yale University School of Medicine from 1997 until 2003. He served as Commissioner of the United States Food and Drug Administration from November 1990 until March 1997, was appointed by President George H. Bush and reappointed by President Bill Clinton.

    He is author of A Question of Intent: A Great American Battle With a Deadly Industry about tobacco regulations, The Needs of the Dying , and now The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite


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