Why Can't We Stop Eating Terrible Food? TEDMED

Date: September 7th, 2022
Author: Billie Bradshaw

When we wake up in the morning, oftentimes, we reach for our phones; an endless, all-you-can-eat buffet of information and entertainment. As soon as we're done with work, we can swing by a club, a bar, or a liquor store and immediately get a little something to celebrate with. As soon as we get home, we can sit on the couch and watch endlessly streaming movies and tv shows.

Never before in human history have we been surrounded and bombarded by so many options, so much stuff. We can get as much as we want, and yet, we can't get enough. Food is the same way. In fact, food manufacturers pay scientists and researchers to figure out ways to make their products even more attractive, enticing, and addicting.

Many say if we educate the public, they'll stay away from the junk food, but that isn't working. We know what we're eating is bad for us, and yet we eat it anyway. So what's the solution? Watch the video to learn more.

so when you get up in the morning you probably feel pretty free to choose what you're going to do my guess is the first thing you do is reach for one of these my cell phone it gives me continuous access to an online all-you-can-eat buffet I can enter a virtual gambling casino get hooked on a little app or a game a shop till I drop I got to be honest with you I am one I cannot not look at this thing when it pings with a new text message and I am one of the 78% of Americans who can't get up out of bed in the morning without checking this thing first sometimes I don't even notice I'm reaching for it I just do it now here's a product you probably don't have in your pocket this is powdered alcohol I'm not kidding palcohol it's going to be out on the market this year so I can just carry around this convenient little package and mix myself up a cocktail whenever wherever I want maybe I should add it to my morning coffee at work it might jazz things up a bit so here's my point at no time in human history has our species been so bombarded by stuff designed to get us hooked companies compete on the very basis of creating evermore habit-forming products and it's no different with our food food corporations hire scientists to engineer the most irresistible habit-forming foods sugar is currently their go-to ingredient these guys have flipped the script on they are using the very brain imaging technologies that we use to try to find cures for addiction only they put people in the MRI machine and feed them Dorito chips to figure out ways to tweak the recipe to make it even more habit-forming than it already is so here's my question to you when you live in a world that is surrounding you on a 24/7 basis with food products scientifically engineered to be habit-forming do you really have freedom of choice now most addictive substances are actually quite safe in their natural form heroin comes from poppy seeds cocaine from the coca plant alcohol from fruits and grains for centuries farmers high up in the Andes Mountains have chewed coca leaves it's a tradition it's a mild stimulant like drinking a cup of coffee it helps them work longer hours and cope with the high altitudes probably the worst thing that can happen to you after a lifetime of - and coca leaves maybe you'll get bad teeth things do get really bad when we industrialize the coca production process when we learned how to refine the coca plant down into its most concentrated form a little rock of white powder that's when the humble coca leaf becomes the lethally addictive drug we know as crack now what's interesting is that up until the 20th century cocaine was actually an innocent domesticated white powder just like sugar is today people put it in everything you could go to your drugstore and and buy it in a soothing tonic people put it in cough syrup and gave it to their kids coca-cola is one of the most successful products in in modern history it was formulated in the 1880s and the company's founders were so proud of their special recipe that they vowed never to change it but at one time in history the coca-cola corporation was forced to change its recipe that was in 1903 when the political current the tide was shifting away from cocaine eventually to make it an illegal drug that's when coca-cola took the cocaine out of the coke of course they just replaced it with a different addictive substance namely caffeine so here you have it a concentrated dose of sugar combined with a concentrated dose of caffeine double the pleasure double the chances we'll get hooked the fact is as long as food corporations aren't breaking narcotics laws they can do pretty much whatever they want to formulate their products to make them even more habit-forming my work takes me into San Francisco's Tenderloin district every big city has a place like this right it's a few square blocks of extreme poverty and urban blight there's a liquor store on every corner usually with a bunch of drug dealers hanging out in front we have a name for places like this we call them alcohol and drug saturated environments now the Tenderloin has a program called safe passage volunteers go to the school bus and pick up children to safely walk them to their homes they have to travel circuitous routes through the city streets to avoid all the drug dealers and liquor stores it's like living in an obstacle course when it comes to food to process food and sugar we're all living in an obstacle course