cover image Hooked: Food, Free Will, and How the Food Giants Exploit Our Addictions

Hooked: Food, Free Will, and How the Food Giants Exploit Our Addictions

Michael Moss. Random House, $28 (304p) ISBN 978-0-8129-9729-3

Food is a drug, and its manufacturers are tempting consumers into addiction, according to this contentious exposé by Pulitzer-winning journalist Moss (Salt Sugar Fat). The author explores the science behind the notion that food is addictive in its effects on the body and mind: MRI scans show the brain lighting up at the thought of a cheeseburger much like it does at a snort of cocaine, while sugar, salt, and fat activate receptors that prompt the brain to generate a rush of pleasure. Moss argues that Kraft Heinz, Coca Cola, Nestlé, and fast food companies exploit weaknesses to stoke gluttony by adding copious amounts of sugar, salt, and fat to their products, and tantalizing consumers with novel artificial flavors. He also shows how advertising can manipulate memory: in one experiment, subjects viewed a Wendy’s ad that “played up the restaurant’s playgrounds for kids,” urging consumers to relive those memories—most subjects didn’t catch that Wendy’s never had playgrounds. With his usual blend of lucid exposition and sharp-eyed reportage from corporate test kitchens, supermarket aisles, and fast-food counters, Moss provocatively suggests that human will-power is helpless against corporate puppeteers toying with humans’ neurochemical and digestive strings. Readers are sure to find much fascinating—and frightening—food for thought in this fast-paced survey. (Mar.)