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Dr. Kessler Delves Into the Mysteries of Food Cravings

Health correspondent Betty Ann Bowser talks to author Dr. David Kessler about overeating and what is behind people's cravings, the subject of his new book, "The End of Overeating."

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    You could change the name of this place to "Fat and Sugar." There, it's "Fat and Salt." That's "Fat, Sugar and Salt."


    That's because the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration has spent the past seven years meeting with doctors, scientists, and food industry insiders to understand what drives so many Americans to eat so much.

    Kessler explains in his book, "The End of Overeating," what he found during his investigation.

    Dr. Kessler, why did you decide to write this book?


    The book had several beginnings. I was sitting in my office at Yale with a group of residents and fellows and medical students. And we asked the question: If you want to stay alive, what are the things you can do to prevent getting a major disease? Three-quarters of us are going to die of cardiovascular disease or stroke or cancer.

    So I was very interested in preventing disease. And if you're interested in preventing disease, weight is a critical, critical factor. But for me, understanding what to do about weight was the great mystery.

    The food industry has been able to figure out the bliss point, the optimal combinations of fat and salt, fat and sugar, fat, sugar and salt that you think tastes good, but when you look at the science, we now know that those ingredients stimulate, they activate the brain's circuitry.

    They stimulate our intake. They condition us. They drive us to want more. They affect the neural circuits. For decades, the food industry has said, "We're just giving consumers what they want." But, in fact, now we know that what they're doing is excessively activating the brains of millions of Americans.

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