The Axis of Food Evil: Fat, Sugar and Salt

CBS News | 11/05/09

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Ex-Surgeon General Says Restaurants Overload Foods with Ingredients We Crave, But They're Just Selling What We Desire

The next time you come down with a case of the munchies, consider calling on Dr. David Kessler.

He and Serena Altschul recently made a take-out run to some of America's most popular dining spots - the ones whose ads promise total tastebud-overload, like Chili's, Friday's, and Applebee's.

We brought back loads of goodies, but Dr. Kessler provided the real food for thought.

"The fat, the sugar and salt have been layered and loaded into this food," he said. "If I just gave you a package of sugar and say, 'Go have a good time' - "

"I'd pass," said Serena.

"That's not going to do it for you, right? But when you think about it, I mean, what is this? It's the multi-sensory experience. It's the roller coaster in the mouth."

In the brain, too, in the so-called "hedonic hot spots" - regions that respond to hedonistic behavior, whether it's taking recreational drugs or eating food with complex flavors.

"Do you look at food as if it were a drug?" Serena asked.

"It affects the same circuits in the brain," Dr. Kessler said. "It affects the learning memory, motivational, habits, circuits. It activates those circuits. Difference is, food we need to live. We need food to survive."

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