U.S. law requires nutritional labels on retail groceries, but not on restaurant meals, so when former U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner David A. Kessler asked to see the nutritional labels for foods he likes at Chili's restaurant, Chili's refused. An inveterate researcher, Kessler resorted to late-night dumpster-diving to obtain them. He discovered that a single serving of Chili's Southwestern Eggrolls contains a whopping 910 calories, 57 grams of fat and 1,960 milligrams of sodium. The labels mention salt eight different times, and sugars five times. After leading efforts at FDA in the 1990s to regulate nicotine as a drug, Dr. Kessler is exploring the phenomenon of American overeating and the reasons behind the skyrocketing weight gain among the general U.S. population over the last three decades. Dr. Kessler, who has struggled with his own weight over his adult life, discovered that the combination of salt, sugar and fat in foods triggers a chemical change in people's brains that makes them crave more foods containing that same combination. Dr. Kessler sees a parallel between the food industry and the tobacco industry, in that that the food industry manipulates this special salt-sugar-fat combination to induce this neurological response. In his new book, The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite, Dr. Kessler describes how the food industry tries to "hijack" peoples' brains to sell more food.
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