David Kessler, former head of the FDA, was on Forum today discussing his new book "The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite."
He argued that Americans are fat because the sugars, fats and salt that fill processed food inhibit natural feelings of satiety by overwhelming the brain's reward system. Coincidentally, I came across a Science paper this afternoon on a similar topic. This paper pointed out that many of the chemicals responsible for the scents and tastes of fruits are actually fragments of larger chemicals, many of which are known to be important for human nutrition. They hypothesized that these chemicals were a way for plants to communicate with animals - "hey! eat me! (and disperse my seeds)." In their final sentences they muse if the combination of natural and artificial flavors in nutrient-poor processed food tricks the brain into favoring these poor food sources.