Book Review: Salt Sugar Fat by Michael Moss


Rating: 4.5 / 5

With the global rise of obesity and other correlated health problems, Moss interviews research scientists, head of food divisions, and brand managers to see what goes on behind the scenes with the world’s biggest food manufacturers (specifically Nestle, Kraft, General Mills, Kellogg, PepsiCo, and Coca-Cola), and how well known brands were developed.  Salt Sugar Fat delves deep into the research of how foods are processed for maximum pleasure, the ways that companies advertise, and also product placement on grocery store shelves.  Although it is general knowledge that salt sugar and fat lead to numerous health problems, what was fascinating and alarming was the dependency that food manufacturers have on these three ingredients, and how much of it people actually consume.

One of the biggest takeaways from Salt Sugar Fat is how big the processed food industry is, and how much of it depends on salt, sugar, and fat.  Salt is necessary to help with food preservation since there is a huge time gap between when processed food is made to when it arrives on store shelves, to when it is actually eaten by consumers.  Salt also helps bring out other flavors, as evidenced by the fact that Moss ate a piece of bread baked without salt and was disgusted.  I was surprised to learn that human beings are not hardwired to like or want salt, which is the opposite of sugar.  Research has shown that babies a few months old do not naturally like salt, but if it is introduced early. there is a correlating and dangerous relationship between the early introduction to salt and a lifetime of consuming food high in salt.

Salt Sugar Fat is a must-read for everyone.  It is important to understand what we are putting into our bodies, but also the tactics that food manufacturers use to make their goods more appealing.  While Moss does not explicitly state that consumers should ban processed food, with Salt Sugar Fat, he makes the reader more aware and educated about processed foods.  If nothing else, people who have read this book will likely be more cognizant of the marketing on boxed goods as well as pay closer attention to ingredients list and nutritional facts.  I, for one, will consumer fewer processed foods.  After all, many of the employees of these large manufacturers that Moss interviewed do not even eat food their employer makes.  Isn’t that telling you something?

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