Stuffed: An Insider's Look at Who's (Really) Making America Fat

Stuffed: An Insider's Look at Who's (Really) Making America Fat

by Hank Cardello

It was his job to keep you eating.

It was his job to keep you drinking.

It was his job to keep you buying.

For more than thirty years, he watched as corporate profitsand America's waistlinesballooned: fattening consumers meant fattening profits.

Now, in this fascinating and timely book, Cardello offers a behind-the-scenes look at the business of food, providing an insider's account of food company practices, failed government regulations, and misleading media coverage that have combined to place us in the middle of a national obesity epidemic.With insights culled from Cardello's time in the food industry, Stuffed explores how food companies have spent the last fifty years largely ignoring healthier fare in the name of their bottom lines while pushing consumers toward "convenience" food and supersize portions without considering the health consequences.

In addition, he stresses the realistic role that consumers must play in America's new health equation, explaining that un they demand healthier food with their wallets, America will continue to tip the scales for years to come.Provocative and insightful, Stuffed is a sweeping critique of excessive food consumption in America, one that uncovers the money behind the calories and presents a fresh vision for building health into the lives of ordinary Americans.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Nonfiction
  • Rating: 3.02
  • Pages: 272
  • Publish Date: February 1st 2009 by Ecco
  • Isbn10: 0061363863
  • Isbn13: 9780061363863

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Eating too many calories and too much fat makes you fat, the author claims. If that was true just recommending smaller serving sizes of the same old highly processed and sugar-filled junk food might be a helpful initiative. The old 'calories in and calories out' line isn't true - as the book 'Good Calories, bad Calories' and others have explained. One of the worst parts of the book is the insistence by the author that while trans fats are bad for you, replacing them with saturated fats is no better. Saturated fats are healthy fats contained in many of the foods essential to good health that we need to live!

Next you'll be telling us that fast food places get people to buy more when they bundle their food as value meals...oh, wait, you ARE telling us that.

The first half of this book is actually fairly interesting--through about chapter 9. Essentially (without complete and total spoilers as to his arguments, which I find weak anyway), Cardello feels Americans are fat because marketers must be greedy (as per what their job is) and regular people are stupid. Regular people can't be expected to stand up to marketing geniuses and say "No! Don't Supersize my meal!" or to think "I am full now, so I will stop even though I have half a bag left." Regular people can't be expected to NOT order a Monster Thickburger with giant fries and drink because they are so yummy! Just like cookbooks that advocate sneaking veggies into your kids in muffins and marinara. We are drowning in credit card debt, having homes foreclosed on because we cashed out to buy a boat or fabulous vacations or gambled on ARMs (and now want the gov't to "fix" it--are we going to bail out losers in Vegas too?), and are fat. Compounding interest, how credit cards work, how ARMs work, how marketers get us to spend extra money and make us think we're saving, how serving size is manipulated on packaging.

Cardello tries to explain that it will be easier for us to eat healthier if companies also aim their products and packaging toward that goal.

It covers "the food industry." Think grocery stores, restaurants, and even school cafeterias. The next three chapters, in my opinion, focus more on the government--national and state--and various lobbies and special interest groups. Instead, he is all about urging food companies (manufacturers), grocery stores, restaurants, schools and school cafeterias to voluntarily act on their own to do something about the obesity crisis. With the government--as of 2009--paying obscene amounts of money to farmers to plant certain crops in their fields.) It is not just the fault of food companies. It is not just the fault of restaurants (with their huge portion sizes and the focus on how much money can I make off a customer). (141) I think his focus was more on fixing things for "large groups of people" and not on individuals. He also seemed to think that the solution to 'unhealthy' restaurant food was to add omega-3 to (almost) everything. I'm really not.) Yet another disappointment, to me, was that he didn't seem to think the way forward was to focus on real food, whole food, actual grown-from-the-earth food like fruits and vegetables. I don't think the answer to America's health crisis is *more* engineering of our food. I think there are companies, perhaps with the best intentions in the world, "playing God" with our food supply, and in the name of "making it better" or "making it more affordable" or "making it tastier" is doing who-knows-what to the nations' future health.

I think what bothered me about his thesis was his full acceptance of the idea that the only way out of our troubles is further use of industrial food-processing -- "better eating through chemistry." Specifically, he seems to believe that parents have no recourse but to serve their children what the processed food industry provides. I was especially annoyed at his concern for parents who have trouble deciding whether to serve their children sugar-sweetened soda pop or diet soda "when water is not an option." I can think of a few situations where water would not be an option, but they are not ones in which most families find themselves. I know that I made nutritional mistakes with my children; for example, giving them apple juice in bottles rather than water (and I can't recall, in the 70s, anyone saying that was a bad idea!) Better parent education might be part of the answer. Mr. Cardello's ideas for sneaking nutrition into fast and processed food might be good ones, but I don't believe we have to sit passively by and wait for the food industry to save us from ourselves.

Don't get me wrong, it was a good book with necessary information, but the writing style seemed to be very circulatory. I think that might of been because he wouldn't of had enough information to make it into a book. His reasoning was that *people* are to *stupid* to eat in moderation. All in all I would say that this book is a must read for the information about the food companies. I am giving this book 4 stars based solely on the information.

This completely ignores the fact that the reason for our current omega-3 deficiencies is the fact that our diet is so overwhelmingly grain-based. I realize the entire premise of the book is that fast food companies can be more conscious of the health of their customers without compromising profits, but the idea that we will ever be able to completely depend on them for our well-being is laughable.