Robert Lustig treated kids with hormone-related problems for three decades. The pediatric endocrinologist noticed a concerning trend 10 years ago:. Current scientific data on addiction and happiness, or contentment, relies mostly on animal studies and correlative human studies However, Dr. Therefore, Dr. How could a product cause discontentment? Added sugar in processed food drives chronic metabolic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease Yet sugar has been subsidized by the federal government since , when President Nixon pushed for policy to lower food prices The food industry uses sugar as an inexpensive way to increase food palatability and shelf life , Lustig says the Sugar Association increased efforts to market sugar in a positive light.
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At the edges where popular science and popular social criticism meet, with interesting if not always sharply limned I want my MTV—and my doughnuts and my meth. Thus the American mind, racing to attain rewards that entire industries are glad to supply. Here, branching out into realms such as neuroscience, sociology, and even theology, he looks at the reward system whereby the brain lives and dies via serotonin, cortisol, and dopamine, chemicals that drive us to have that one piece of cake too many—or to smoke, snort cocaine, stare into our cellphones, and watch game shows. Medical specialists treat effects, he argues, whereas we should be looking into root causes: not just the chemistry of the brain, driven to seek reward and vulnerable to falling into addiction, but also the economic machine that creates vast industries devoted to choking processed foods with reward-delivering sugar and putting an opioid-supplying pharmacy on every street corner. That economic machine is massively parasitic and spectacularly successful.
Our children are growing up in a world choked by targeted advertising, and banner ads claiming that whatever product is being sold is precisely the product that they need to have. Consumerism has gone digital, making consumption increasingly intimate. And, as Robert H. Fatherly asked Dr. There are a lot of answers to that question. The first answer is that they are marketing hedonic substances and products and behaviors as being completely benign, and using neuroscience to do something called neuromarketing.