Tuesday, April 20


Let's remember what Gary Taubes so snidely said about junk-food junkiedom:

    The orthodox and ubiquitous explanation is that we live in what Kelly Brownell, a Yale psychologist, has called a "toxic food environment" of cheap fatty food, large portions, pervasive food advertising and sedentary lives. By this theory, we are at the Pavlovian mercy of the food industry, which spends nearly $10 billion a year advertising unwholesome junk food and fast food. And because these foods, especially fast food, are so filled with fat, they are both irresistible and uniquely fattening. [But] to buy this logic is to accept that the copious negative reinforcement that accompanies obesity—both socially and physically—is easily overcome by the constant bombardment of food advertising and the lure of a supersize bargain meal.
Well, Gary? Can you accept that now? Because more data has come in suggesting that Neal Barnard was right and you were - on this point like so many of your others - dead wrong:
    People who say they are addicted to chocolate or pizza may not be exaggerating, U.S.-based scientists said on Tuesday. A brain scan study of normal, hungry people showed their brains lit up when they saw and smelled their favorite foods in much the same way as the brains of cocaine addicts when they think about their next snort." Food presentation significantly increased metabolism in the whole brain (by 24 percent) and these changes were largest in superior temporal, anterior insula, and orbitofrontal cortices," they wrote. These areas are associated with addiction.

    The study, published in the April issue of the journal NeuroImage, may support the argument that food advertising is helping drive the U.S. obesity epidemic.
And please remember, Gary, that although the headlines love to focus on chocolate, the vast majority of the items specified as addictive (even counting "hamburger with cheese" or "bacon-egg-cheese sandwich" as one item) are animal products: "The favorite food items most frequently selected by the subjects were bacon-egg-cheese sandwich, cinnamon bun, pizza, hamburger with cheese, fried chicken, lasagna, Bar-Be-Que rib, ice cream, brownie, and chocolate cake."

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