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Psychobiology: Health Speaker Michael Moss On The Science Of Food Cravings
Health | October 04, 2013

Psychobiology: Health Speaker Michael Moss On The Science Of Food Cravings

Why is fast food so hard for most of us to resist? As health speaker Michael Moss tells us, it's all in the psychobiology. Moss, who frequently writes about the intersection of food and marketing for The New York Times, released an article this week explaining how food companies study the reaction our brains have to stimuli (psychobiology) to develop "craveable" products. "[The foods] are engineered to target taste buds using the most powerful features known to manufacturers," he says. Food scientists actually develop their products in a way that makes us want more and more of them.

Mouthfeel, he explains, is a major player in the allure of many of these products. This is a sensation created by the abundance of fat in a food product (a grilled cheese sandwich is a prime example). Lactic and citric acids found in food also contribute to the craveability factor: Both stimulate saliva and trigger the pleasure center in your brain to make you want more of the product. Many of these foods also have "a long, hang-time flavor system in which the lingering smell stimulates food memories and cravings," he adds.

One of the most fascinating techniques that food scientists enact is what Moss refers to as "forgettable flavor." The product Moss dissects in the article, for example, doesn't contain any strong flavors capable of tripping the "sensory specific satiety" signal in the brain. This signal is responsible for conveying the message that you have "have enough" food and if it doesn't go off, you're prone to overindulging. How did we, as a society, become prone to these practices of mindless eating? Check out this exclusive interview that Moss gave at Lavin's Toronto office to see the transition from cooking from scratch to cooking with convenience food and see for yourself. And the next time you're munching away on something, think about how your body is reacting to it—you'll never think the same about that food again.

In his #1 bestseller, Salt, Sugar, Fat, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and New York Times writer Michael Moss traces the rise of the trillion dollar processed food industry and its link to the obesity epidemic. In his powerful and eye-opening keynotes, he shows us how corporations knowingly use salt, sugar, and fat—and the latest in food science—to addict us to their products. And, more importantly, he shows us how we can take control of our plates and make healthy, conscious choices about our food. To book Michael Moss for a speaking engagement, or, to talk to one of our agents about our other speakers, contact The Lavin Agency.
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