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Hijacked: How Your Brain Is Fooled by Food    by David A. Kessler order for
by David A. Kessler
Order:  USA  Can
Tundra, 2013 (2013)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Here's a timely book for teens, David A. Kessler's Hijacked: How Your Brain Is Fooled by Food, a young reader's edition of the New York Times bestseller The End of Overeating. The author, Dr. Kessler is a pediatrician who served as commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration under presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

The book is divided into four parts - Sugar, Fat, Salt, which explains why that combination is so hard to resist, how it rewires your brain and makes you want more; How The Food Industry Targets You by designing and advertising sugar/salt/fat products; Understanding Overeating which explains how we get trapped and how to find a way out; and Food Rehab which suggests new ways to look at food and to take control.

Many of us have noticed an increase in overweight people all around us - Kessler makes the point that this happened in the 1980s: 'In fewer than 12 years, about 20 million people became overweight ... The rate of obesity in North America had exploded.' He tells us 'We Didn't Change - Our Food Did', the processed food made by big companies, 'loaded with sugar, fat, and salt' that, for some people (and rats apparently) is irresistible.

There's a great deal of interest in the book. For example, product ingredients must, by law, be listed in order of amounts used. To disguise the fact that sugar is the main ingredient in many breakfast cereals, companies use a variety of kinds of sugar (like brown sugar, molasses, high fructose corn syrup), each then listed separately.

What to do to control overeating? Kessler tells us that it 'doesn't come from a lack of willpower' and that we're constantly bombarded by cues that stimulate overeating. He advises on how to retrain our brains for new eating habits. Hijacked is a very important book that we all should read and think hard about.

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