By
Jansing & Co.
updated 4/8/2013 1:49:49 PM ET 2013-04-08T17:49:49

Don't beat yourself up the next time you give in to the urge to eat a bag of potato chips or cookies. The processed food industry has spent decades and billions of dollars coming up with the perfect combination of sugar, salt and fat to get you hooked and keep you coming back for more.

Don’t beat yourself up the next time you give in to the urge to eat a bag of potato chips or cookies. The processed food industry has spent decades and billions of dollars coming up with the perfect combination of sugar, salt and fat to get you hooked and keep you coming back for more, according to Michael Moss’ new book, Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us.

“This is a holy trinity for the processed food industry. Always those three in optimum amounts, heaps, really,”Moss, a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist, said on Jansing & Co. Monday.

Moss sifted through thousands of internal industry documents to learn how the processed food industry–with $1 trillion a year in sales–tries to come up with foods that strike the perfect balance of salt, sugar, and fat, which it calls the “bliss point.”

Moss explained there’s a reason why it’s almost impossible to eat just one potato chip.

“They’ve got the salt, which the industry calls the flavor burst, goes right you to your pleasure center of the brain and says, ‘Eat more.’ They’re loaded with fat. That also delivers what they call the ‘mouthfeel’, which is an incredible allure. And then they’re actually loaded with sugar,” said Moss. “The potato starch itself starts turning into sugar the instant it hits your tongue.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 35.7% of all American adults are obese. The cost to treat obesity-related problems is approaching $200 million a year.

Moss has some simple, but often difficult advice when it comes to avoiding processed food.

“You gotta really work hard at it–better shopping techniques, resist the spontaneity and eat healthier,” he said.

Video: Hooked on processed foods

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    >>> more than a third of all americans, 78 million are obese, according to the cdc. and the cost to treat obesity related problems here, that's approaching $200 billion a year. in his new book, "salt, sugar fat, how the food giants hooked up" michael mogs writes that company scientist search for the perfect amount of salt, fat and sugar in their processed food formulas together uts addicted. what's known in the industry as the bliss point. michael moss joins us today. good to see you. thanks for having me.

    >> what's the bliss point?

    >> that is the perfect amount of sweetness usually in food that will send us over the moon . not too much, not too little. one person walk me recently through his formula for the perfect sod ya. he had to use different points, subjected to 3 thougs consumer taste tests and guaranteed to be a success fovl company.

    >> make that real for us, the bliss point, a product. what's going to be in it?

    >> sugar , salt, fat. this is a holy trinity for the --

    >> all those three?

    >> always those three in optimum amounts, heaps, really. we've always known the foods we hate to love will make us sick if we eat too many of them. but we now know for years thes prodollars industry has known this, even as they continue adding heaps.

    >> what food would surprise us if michael moss came out and said that has the bliss point very well calculated and we go, oh, my gosh, i had to idea?

    >> i really love both potato chips myself and to talk about it. they have the salt, the flavor burst goes right you to your pleasure center of the brab and says eat more. they're loaded with fat. that delivers what they call the mouth feel which is an incredible allure. and they're loaded with sugar , which i didn't know. not added to it, but the potato starch itself starts turning into sugar as soon as it hits your tongue. salt, sugar , fat.

    >> i love the holy trinity , i have to say. you've sifted through thousands of industrial documents and are part of a 1999 presentation to wall street investors that you pulled out from philip morris . we're helping busy consumers with an extensive lineup like caco bell dinner kits and lunchble us lunch combinations. we also know the number one question in america at 4:00 p.m . is not how did the market do today? it's what's for dinner and most consumers don't have a clue.

    >> it sounds like my wife eve and i in the evening. what's surprising to me is the fast food industry has moved into the grocery store . as the grocery manufacturers realize this is an entirely new market they could go after. suddenly shopping for groceries becomes much more problematic for us as we're trying to feed our kids something healthier for dinner.

    >> one reaction to this story line might be, well, you make the products, it's up to the open free market to decide whether it's going to buy it or not.

    >> and that's a good point. i don't view the industry as this evil empire that's set out to intentionally make us obese. the problem lies in their collective squeal to izeal to do what companies do. it's their own dependance on self- sugar fat to make those products ultimately convenient, ultra although cost.

    >> how do we break this addiction? you know, you have to really work hard at it. better shopping techniques, resist the spontaneity and eat healthier.

    >> mike, i'm afraid i'm going to have i'll have probably some potato chips later on today. michael moss, really enjoy it.

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