MetroFocus: November 15, 2022

SWEET TRUTH ACT  WILL REQUIRE NYC RESTAURANTS TO DISPLAY SUGAR CONTENT OF FOODS 

Do you have a sweet tooth? You’re not alone. Nearly one million New Yorkers have type two diabetes and even more are overweight. And the reality is our sugary treats might be to blame. Tonight, find out how the city is planning to teach New Yorkers the not so sweet truth about the amount of sugar they’re eating and why the giants that control the food industry aren’t happy about it. Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine and food and nutrition journalist, Michael Moss, join us to discuss New York City’s new Sweet Truth Act, which will require chain restaurants to publicly display the sugar content on their prepackaged foods, and discuss why this law is so necessary.

TRANSCRIPT

> DO YOU HAVE A SWEET TOOTH?

YOU'RE NOT ALONE.

NEARLY 1 MILLION NEW YORKERS HAVE TYPE TWO DIABETES, AND EVEN MORE ARE OVERWEIGHT, AND THE SAD PART IS OUR SUGARY TREATS MIGHT BE TO BLAME.

HOW NEW YORK IS TRYING TO TEACH THE TRUTH ABOUT THE SUGAR WE'RE EATING AND WHY THIS GIANTS THAT CONTROL THE FAST FOOD INDUSTRY AREN'T HAPPY ABOUT IT.

'METROFOCUS' STARTS RIGHT NOW.

♪♪

> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS,' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD, AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

> 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND, BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

AND BY --

GOOD EVENING, AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JENNA FLANAGAN.

IT'S ESTIMATED THAT OVER HALF OF NEW YORK CITY RESIDENTS ARE NOW OVERWEIGHT OR OBESE, AND ALMOST 1 MILLION NEW YORKERS HAVE TYPE 2 DIABETES.

THIS IS DUE IN PART TO THE FOODS THAT WE EAT, AND ONE OF THE BIGGEST CULPRITS IS SUGAR.

NOW, ACCORDING TO THE CDC, EATING EXCESS AMOUNTS OF SUGAR CAN LEAD TO A HIGHER RISK OF DEVELOPING HEALTH PROBLEMS LIKE OBESITY, TYPE TWO DIABETES, AND HEART DISEASE, THE LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH FOR ADULTS IN NEW YORK CITY.

THOUGH SOMETIMES IT'S OBVIOUS WHICH FOODS ARE HIGH IN SUGAR, OTHER TIMES IT'S LESS CLEAR.

SOME MEMBERS OF CITY GOVERNMENT ARE HOPING TO CHANGE THAT THROUGH THE PASSAGE OF THE STREET TRUTH ACT.

A LAW REQUIRING CHAIN RESTAURANTS TO POST THE SUGAR CONTENT OF THEIR PACKAGED ITEMS.

AND JOINING ME NOW TO TALK ABOUT THE BENEFITS OF THE STREET TRUTH ACT IS MARK LEVINE, THE MANHATTAN BOROUGH PRESIDENT BE THE ORIGINAL SPONSOR OF THE SWEET TRUTH ACT.

MARK, IT'S GREAT TO HAVE YOU BACK ON 'METROFOCUS.'

THANK YOU, JENNA.

HAPPY TO BE HERE.

ABSOLUTELY.

SO FIRST LET'S GET RIGHT INTO IT AND TALK ABOUT THE -- WHY EVEN THE EXISTENCE OF AN ACT LIKE THIS.

WHAT WAS IT THAT SAID TO YOU, WE NEED MORE CLARITY IN THE FOOD THAT WE'RE CONSUMING?

WE HAVE BEEN WORKING ON THIS ISSUE FOR YEARS, EVEN BEFORE THE PANDEMIC WOMEN SAW RISING RATE OF OBESITY.

YOU SITED THEM FOR THE POPULATION AS A WHOLE, BUT WHAT'S REALLY PAINFUL IS TO SEE HOW THIS IS IMPACTING YOUNG PEOPLE AND CHILDREN IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS, NEW YORK CITY.

WE'RE SEEING HALF OF STUDENTS AT AN UNHEALTHY WEIGHT.

BY KINDERGARTEN, 20% OF KIDS IN NEW YORK CITY ARE DIAGNOSED AS HAVING OBESITY.

AND THIS REALLY SETS KIDS UP FOR YEARS AND YEARS OF HEALTH COMPLICATIONS.

AND SO WE'VE GOT TO DO BETTER.

WE KNEW THAT IN 2019, BUT THE PANDEMIC ONLY MADE IT MORE PAINFULLY OBVIOUS, AS WE SAW THAT SOME OF THE VARIED DISEASES THAT ARE CAUSED BY EXCESSIVE CONSUMPTION OF SUGAR MADE PEOPLE REALLY VULNERABLE TO COVID.

DIABETES MOST NOTABLY.

WE SAY THE DIABETES DEATH RATE SPIKE -- THE RATE OF FATALITY AMONG NEW YORKERS WITH DIABETES SPIKED TO THE POINT WHERE NOW WE'RE LOSING A NEW YORK WE ARE DIABETES EVERY 90 MINUTES.

AND WE'VE GOT TO MAKE IT EASIER FOR PEOPLE TO EAT HEALTHY.

THAT'S KEY TO GETTING THIS UNDER CONTROL.

AS YOU MENTION IN THE YOUR INTRO, INFORMATION IS POWER.

YOU WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW WHAT THEY'RE PUTTING INTO THEIR BODY.

AND I THINK THAT A LOT OF NEW YORKERS WOULD BE SHOCKED TO HEAR HOW MUCH SUGAR IS ADDED TO THE FOODS THAT THEY'RE GETTING DAY-TO-DAY IN CHAIN RESTAURANTS IN NEW YORK CITY.

A 20-OUNCE REGULAR SODA HAS 65 GRAMS OF SUGAR.

THAT IS LIKE 16 PACTS OF SUGAR.

LIKE IMAGINE A COFFEE, PUTTING IN 16 SUGAR PACTS.

THAT'S WHAT YOU'RE GETTING IN A 20-OUNCE SODA.

AND THAT'S NOT EVEN A LARGE.

THAT'S AT THIS POINT CONSIDERED A MEDIUM.

BUT IT'S EVEN FOODS THAT YOU'RE ORDERING IN THESE RESTAURANTS THAT YOU DON'T THINK OF AS BEING DESSERTS.

THERE'S A CHICKEN PECAN SALAD IS THE A POPULAR CHAIN RESTAURANT THAT HAS 40 GRAM OF SUGAR.

THAT IS THE EQUIVALENT OF 10 PACKETS OF SUGAR IN A SALAD.

THERE'S A MAPLE OATMEAL BREAKFAST ITEM AT A POPULAR RESTAURANT, WHICH HAS 40 GRAMS OF SUGAR.

AN OATMEAL, WHICH YOU THINK IS MORE A HEALTHY BREAKFAST.

WE'VE GOT TO INFORM THE PUBLIC WHAT IS IN THE MENU ITEMS THAT THEY'RE ORDERING AND PUTTING INTO THEIR BODY.

SO WE WANT TO BUILD ON THE SUCCESS IN NEW YORK CITY OF TELLING PEOPLE THE CALORIE COUNTS ON CHAIN RESTAURANT MENUS, AND ALSO GIVING A SODIUM WARNING.

AND THOSE HAVE BEEN VERY SUCCESSFUL.

NEW YORKERS HAVE REALLY EMBRACED IT.

AND INTERESTINGLY, IT HAS CHANGED THE MENUS IN SOME OF THE FAST FOOD RESTAURANTS, BECAUSE THEY WANT TO AVOID BEING OVER THE THRESHOLD TO GET AN ADDED SODIUM ICON, SO THEY REDUCE THE AMOUNT OF SODIUM IN SOME OF THE MENU ITEMS.

THAT'S A SUCCESS.

WE WANT TO DO THAT FOR ADDED SUGAR.

AND I'M THRILLED THAT WE HAVE PASSED A LAW AFTER YEARS OF FIGHTING.

IN JANUARY WE WERE ABLE TO PASS IT OF THIS CALENDAR YEAR.

AND IT'S GOING TO REALLY BE A GAME CHANGE FOR PEOPLE'S UNDERSTANDING OF JUST WHAT IT IS THAT THEY'RE ORDERING ON FOOD MENUS.

OF COURSE.

YOU ACTUALLY SORT OF ANSWERED ONE OF MY QUESTIONS, AND THAT WAS GOING TO BE, IS THIS BUILDING OFF SOME OF THE TRANSPARENCY REQUIREMENTS THAT HAPPENED UNDER THE BLOOMBERG ADMINISTRATION.

BUT I DO WANT TO TALK ABOUT -- BECAUSE NOVEMBER IS DIABETES AWARENESS MONTH, AND WITH SO MANY NEW YORKERS EXPERIENCING TYPE 2 DIABETES, FOR EXAMPLE, IS -- I THINK IT'S FAIR TO SAY THAT THEY'RE PROBABLY ALSO, IF YOU LOOK AT THAT, IT'S NOT JUST THAT THERE'S DIABETES FOR A LOT OF NEW YORKERS, BUT THERE'S ALSO AN INCOME DISPARITY, AND YOU'RE GOING TO SEE THAT HIGHER WITH LOWER INCOME NEW YORKERS.

AS A GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL, IS THERE SOMETHING THE GOVERNMENT ALSO NEEDS TO DO TO MAKE HEALTHY FOODS MORE ACCESSIBLE TO PEOPLE WHO CAN'T AFFORD TO GO TO PERHAPS SOME OF THE MORE FANCY ORGANIC RESTAURANTS IN THE CITY?

JENNA, THIS IS ABSOLUTELY AN EQUITY ISSUE.

HEALTHY FOOD REMAINS LESS AFFORDABLE AND LESS ACCESSIBLE IN LOW-INCOME NEIGHBORHOODS, COMMUNITY OF COLOR IN NEW YORK CITY.

FAST FOOD RESTAURANTS ARE MORE PREVALENT IN LOW INCOME COMMUNITIES AND COMMUNITIES OF COLOR.

THERE ARE ACTUALLY 2,000 CHAIN RESTAURANTS IN NEW YORK CITY.

THIS IS A MAJOR INDUSTRY.

AGAIN, THEY'RE CONCENTRATED DISPROPORTIONATELY IN COMMUNITIES OF COLOR.

AND THAT HAS LED TO DIRECT HEALTH OUTCOMES.

A GREATER PREVALENCE OF DISEASES LIKE DIABETES AMONG AFRICAN AMERICAN LATINO NEW YORKERS.

AND THERE WAS A TERRIBLE PRICE PAID FOR THAT DURING THE PANDEMIC, AS I SAID.

THE LEGISLATION THAT WE'RE WORKING ON IS FOCUSED ON CHAIN RESTAURANTS, NOT THE MOM AND POPS.

IT'S ACTUALLY DEFINED AS RESTAURANTS WITH 15 OUTLETS OR MORE.

I WANT TO CLARIFY THAT WE HAD AN INITIAL VERSION OF THIS PASSED IN JANUARY.

WE'RE WORKING ON A MORE EXTENSIVE VERSION WITH A WONDERFUL PARTNER IN THE CITY COUNCIL, KEITH POWERS, COUNSEL MEMBER FROM MANHATTAN.

A MORE EXPANSIVE VERSION OF THE BILL HE INTRODUCED IN SEPTEMBER.

WE'RE MAKING PROGRESS TO MAKE SURE THIS ROLLS OUT IN EVERY FAST FOOD RESTAURANT, ON EVERY MENU THROUGHOUT THE CITY.

WE HAVE GOT TO DO BETTER TO MAKE IT EASIER FOR LOW INCOME PEOPLE TO ACCESS HEALTHY FOOD, PARTLY GIVING THEM KNOWLEDGE AND INFORMATION AT HEALTHY RESTAURANTS.

ALSO MEANS HAVING MORE FARMERS' MARKETS, MORE GREEN GROCERS, MORE PROGRAMS TO SUBSIDIZE THE COST OF HEALTHY FRESH FRUITS AND VEGETABLES FOR LOW-INCOME NEW YORKERS.

SO THIS HAS TO BE A MULTIFRONT EFFORT, BUT INFORMATION IS DEFINITELY KEY TO THAT BATTLE.

IT'S INTERESTING WHEN YOU MENTION GIVING PEOPLE KNOWLEDGE, BECAUSE WE DID ALSO SPEAK WITH A FOOD WRITER, AND ONE OF THE THINGS HE POINTED OUT WAS THAT SUGAR IS ACTUALLY ADDICTING.

IT LIGHTS UP A CERTAIN PART OF YOUR BRAIN THAT MAKES YOU WANT AND CRAVE IT MORE OFTEN.

LISTEN, WE'VE ALL HAD THOSE MOMENTS WHERE, YOU KNOW WHAT?

I JUST WANT -- INSERT CANDY BAR NAME HERE -- TO MAKE ME FEEL BETTER ABOUT SOMETHING.

THAT'S A VERY, I THINK, UBIQUITOUS EXPERIENCE FOR PEOPLE.

BUT IS PART OF THE INFORMATION ALSO MAKING PEOPLE AWARE OF WHEN THEY'RE HAVING THOSE SUGAR CRAVINGS AND WHY THAT MIGHT BE?

YEAH, SUGAR IS HIGHLY ADDICTIVE, BUT IT'S ALSO BEING PUSHED BY A MULTIBILLION DOLLAR SUGAR INDUSTRY, WHICH IS ADVERTISING FOR SUGARY FOODS AND HIGHLY PROCESSED FOODS UBIQUITOUS.

IT'S EVERYWHERE.

AND WE DON'T HAVE AN EQUIVALENT EDUCATION INITIATIVE ON THE OTHER SIDE TO HELP PEOPLE UNDERSTAND THE DOWNSIDES OF SUGAR.

AND A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE ONLY GETTING ONE SIDE OF THE STORY.

AND ACTUALLY, ADVOCATES HAVE TALK ABOUT CURRICULUM IN SCHOOLS THAT NEEDS TO BE IMPROVED SO THAT AS PART OF PUBLIC SCHOOL EDUCATION FROM A YOUNG AGE, CHILDREN LEARN THE IMPACT OF PUTTING A LOT OF SUGAR IN THEIR BODY.

THAT'S GOT TO BE PART OF OUR PUBLIC HEALTH EFFORT HERE.

ALSO AN EFFORT TO GET BETTER LABELING ON SUGARY PRODUCTS, NOT JUST IN THE CONTEST OF CHAIN RESTAURANTS, WHICH IS THE LEGISLATION I'M TALKING ABOUT HERE, BUT ALSO ON THE PACKAGING OF ANY SUGARY, HIGHLY PROCESSED PROJECT, FROM A CANDY BAR TO A SUGARY SODA, WHEREVER IT'S SOLD, EVEN IF IN SUPERMARKETS.

OTHER COUNTRIES ARE WAY AHEAD OF US ON THIS.

MEXICO IS WAY AHEAD.

THEY HAVE CLEAR WARNINGS ABOUT THE IMPACT OF A HIGH SUGAR DIET ON THE PACKAING OF THOSE PRODUCTS.

IT'S KIND OF ANALOGOUS TO TOBACCO PRODUCTS.

WE HAVE NOTHING EQUIVALENT FOR HIGH SUGAR ADDED DRINKS AND CANDIES, ET CETERA.

WE NEED A MULTIFRONT EFFORT TO EDUCATE PEOPLE ON THE MENUS, ON THE PACKAGING, IN SCHOOL CURRICULUM.

EVEN IN ADS.

YOU'VE GOT SUBWAY ADS FOR CANDY BARS.

WE NEED EQUIVALENT ADS TO HELP PEOPLE UNDERSTAND THE IMPACT OF A HIGH SUGAR DIET.

WE HAVE A LOT OF WORK TO DO, JENNA, AND IT'S A MULTIFRONT EFFORT.

WOULD YOU SEE AN EXPANSION OF THIS BILL GOING FROM PACKAGED FOODS, I SHOULD SAY, ESPECIALLY SOLD AT THE BIG CHAIN RESTAURANTS, TO ALL MENUS LIKE WE SAW WITH THE CALORIE COUNTS?

EXACTLY.

AND THAT IS WHAT THIS NEW BILL THAT COUNCIL MEMBER POWERS INTRODUCED, WHICH IS CURRENTLY IN COMMITTEE, WILL DO.

IT WILL BE ANY MENU ITEM, WHETHER PACKAGED OR NOT.

AND SO THAT WILL BE AN IMPORTANT EXPANSION OF THIS BILL.

BUT WE NEED TO ALSO HAVE PRODUCT LABELING EVEN OUTSIDE OF RESTAURANTS AND SUPER MARKETS.

AS I MENTIONED.

SO THERE'S A LOT OF WORK TO DO.

BUT THIS IS A BATTLE WHICH WE'RE BEHIND ON, AND --

WELL --

PLEASE.

I WAS JUST GOING TO SAY, WE'RE COMING UP ON THE END OF OUR TIME.

WE'VE GOT ABOUT 30 SECONDS LEFT.

THE THERE'S SOMETHING YOU WOULD WANT ALL NEW YORKERS TO BE AWARE OF WITH THE PASSAGE OF THE SWEET TRUTH ACT, WHAT WOULD THAT BE?

YOU NEED TO KNOW WHAT YOU'RE PUTTING IN YOUR BODY.

YOU NEED TO TREAT HIGH SUGAR CONTENT PRODUCTS AS A TREAT, AS A DESSERT.

IT'S OKAY IF IT'S PART OF A BALANCED DIET, BUT DON'T LET THAT BECOME THE STAPLE OF EVERY MEAL YOU CONSUME.

DON'T LET THAT BE A TWO OR THREE TIMES A DAY DRINK THAT YOU HAVE WITH 40, 60, 80 GRAMS OF SUGAR.

BALANCE YOUR DIET.

KNOW WHAT YOU'RE PUTTING INTO YOUR BODY.

KNOWLEDGE IS POWER.

WE'RE TRYING TO HELP YOU WITH GOOD POLICY UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU'RE PUTTING INTO THE BODY AND YOU AS CONSUMERS CAN ALSO MAKE THAT EFFORT.

WE WANT EVERYONE TO BE HEALTHY.

WE WANT EVERYONE TO HAVE A BALANCED DIET.

WE DON'T WANT TO GO WHAT WE WENT THROUGH WITH COVID EVER AGAINEN LET'S RALLY AS A CITY TO HAVE BALANCED DIET AND EXERCISE SO THAT WE CAN BEAT DIABETES AND OBESITY ONCE AND FOR ALL.

MARK LEVINE, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

OF COURSE WE LOOK FORWARD TO THE ROLLOUT OF THE SWEET TRUTH ACT.

THANK YOU, JENNA, AND THANKS, EVERYONE.

ABSOLUTELY.

> GOOD EVENING.

I'M JENNA FLANAGAN.

NEW YORK CITY IS USING LEGISLATION LIKE THE SWEET TRUTH ACT TO TRY TO ENCOURAGE NEW YORKERS TO EMBRACE HEALTHIER EATING HABITS.

WHILE NUTRITION ADVOCATES WILL CERTAINLY CELEBRATE THE SPILL, THE RESTAURANT INDUSTRY AND PARTICULARLY THE LARGE CHAINS AFFECTED BY THE NEW LAW WILL NOT BE SO HAPPY ABOUT IT.

THE FOOD GIANTS, AS AUTHOR MICHAEL MOSS HAS DUBBED THEM, HAVE SPENT YEARS GETTING AMERICANS HOOKED ON SUGARY FOODS DESPITE ANY POTENTIAL NEGATIVE HEALTH CONSEQUENCES THEIR FOODS MIGHT HAVE.

THEY HAVE BEEN SUCCESSFUL BY KEEPING SECRET HOW HARMFUL THEIR FOODS CAN BE.

THE SWEET TRUTH WOULD FORCE THEM TO BE MORE TRANSPARENT AND FORCE NEW YORKERS TO THINK FOR CRITICALLY ABOUT WHAT THEY'RE EATING.

AND JOINING ME NOW TO TALK ABOUT THE DANGERS OF TOO MUCH SUGAR AND HOW THE FOOD INDUSTRY WILL RESPOND TO THE SWEET TRUTH ACT IS MICHAEL MOSS, A JOURNALIST REPORTING ON THE INTERSECTION OF FOOD, HEALTH, AND POLITICS.

AND HE'S ALSO THE AUTHOR OF THE CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED BOOK' HOOKED.'

THAT'S QUITE A TITLE.

WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

GOOD TO BE HERE.

GREAT TO TALK ABOUT ONE OF MY FAVORITE SUBJECTS, SUGAR.

LET'S START JUST RIGHT IN AT THE BEGINNING, SUGAR.

IT'S A SOURCE OF COMFORT.

IT'S SEEN AS A REWARD.

YOU EAT BRUSSELS SPROUTS YOU GET DESSERT.

THAT'S GOT SUGAR IN IT.

BUT THE THINGS WE MIGHT ASSOCIATE WITH SUGAR, YOU'RE SAYING NO, NO, NO, SUGAR IS IN WAY MORE PLACES THAN YOU THINK.

I THINK IT'S REASONABLE FOR NUTRITION ADVOCATES, GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS TO FOCUS, HONE IN ON SUGAR AS BEING SOMETHING WE CAN WORK ON TO HELP US GET CONTROL OF OUR EATING HABITS.

SUGAR HAS LOTS OF EMPTY CALORIES, MEANING IT'S NOT GOING TO HELP US OR OUR KIDS GROW STRONG BODIES, STRONG MINDS.

IT'S ASSOCIATED WITH HEALTH TROUBLE.

THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT STILL DOESN'T GIVE US ADVICE ON HOW LITTLE SUGAR TO EAT, BUT YOU ASK SOMEBODY LIKE THE HEART ASSOCIATION HOW MUCH WE SHOULD BE EATING AND THEIR OPINION IS SHOCKING.

IT'S A PORTION OF A CAN OF SODA IN AN ENTIRE DAY FOR EVERYTHING YOU EAT, NOT JUST A PORTION OF IT, IS THEIR LIMIT ON WHAT WE SHOULD BE EATING IN SUGAR TO AVOID HEART DISEASE AND OTHER THINGS.

FOR SOME PEOPLE, SUGAR IS ONE OF THE BIGGEST TRIGGERS TO CAUSE THEM TO EAT COMPULSIVELY.

IT'S REALLY COMPELLING TO GO TO A GROUP LIKE FOOD ADDICTS ANONYMOUS AND HEAR PEOPLE TALK ABOUT, YOU KNOW, DRIVING HOME FROM THE GROCERY STORE AND GETTING HOME AND THE CAR IS LITTERED WITH EMPTY WRAPPERS BECAUSE THEY HAVEN'T BEEN ABLE TO CONTROL THEMSELVES.

FOR THEM, THE SMALLEST AMOUNT OF SUGAR CAN CAUSE THEM TO ACT COMPULSIVELY.

THEN THE INDUSTRY.

I THINK SUGAR IS ONE OF THE BEST EXAMPLES OF THE INDUSTRY NOT JUST RESPONDING TO OUR LIKES AND DISLIKES IN FOOD, BUT CREATING THOSE LIKES, BECAUSE WHAT THEY DID WAS, THEY MARCHED AROUND THE STORE ADDING SUGAR TO THINGS THAT DIDN'T USED TO BE SWEET -- YOGURT AND BREAD AND SPAGHETTI SAUCE, SO THAT NOW SOME TWO-THIRDS OF THE PRODUCTS HAVE ADDED SUGAR.

THIS TREAT US TO EXPECT EVERYTHING WE EAT TO BE SWEET.

SO WHEN YOU GRAB YOUR KIDS TO THE PRODUCE AISLE AND TRY TO EAT MORE OF THE STUFF EVERY NUTRITIONIST SAID WE SHOULD EAT MORE OF, AND THE BITTER NOTES OR SOUR NOTES YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE A HARD TIME OR A RIOT ON YOUR HAND.

THAT'S THE SUGAR SITUATION IN OUR DIETS THESE DAYS.

CAN YOU TALK JUST A LITTLE BIT ABOUT -- BECAUSE I THINK SOMETIMES WHILE ALL OF US MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE FELT IT, LIKE I JUST NEED A KITKAT, WE FELT SOMETHING AKIN TO THAT.

WE MIGHT NOT UNDERSTAND WHY.

WHAT MAKES SUGAR ADDICTIVE?

WHAT IS IT IT'S DOING TO OUR BRAINS?

THE INDUSTRY CALLS IT BLISS POINT.

WHEN THEY HIT THE PERFECT AMOUNT OF SWEETNESS, THEIR PRODUCTS ARE GOING TO FLY OFF THE SHELF.

YOU PUT A DAB OF SUGAR ON YOUR TONGUE, THAT'S SENDING A SIGNAL TO THE REWARD CENTER OF YOUR BRAIN, WHICH IS TELLING YOU, WOW, MICHAEL, I LOVE.

THAT LET'S GET MORE OF THAT.

IT'S THE SAME WITH SALT.

AND FATS KIND OF WORK IN ANOTHER WAY.

BUT THAT'S ONE OF THE BIGGEST THINGS HIGHLY PROCESSED FOODS HAVE GOING FOR THEM, THEIR ABILITY TO EXCITE THE BRAIN AND GET US TO DO THINGS WE OTHERWISE MIGHT NOT IF WE THOUGHT ABOUT THE CONSEQUENCES.

WELL, WHAT ABOUT THE FACT THAT THERE IS AN ATTEMPT AT LEAST TO GET NEW YORKERS EAT HEALTHIER, BUT AS YOU MENTIONED A LOT OF US AREN'T REALLY FAMILIAR WITH OR ACCUSTOMED TO EATING FOODS THAT ARE HEALTHIER.

IS THAT REALISTIC?

IS THAT TRYING TO FORCE PEOPLE TO DO SOMETHING THEY'RE NOT READY TO DO?

THIS KIND OF FALLS IN THE CATEGORY OF WARNINGS.

CAUTIONING US AGAINST BUYING SOMETHING.

I HAVE A LITTLE DATA FOR YOU I GOT.

THERE'S A PROFESSOR AT CORNELL, JOHN COLLIE, DID THIS WONDERFUL EXPERIMENT WITH COLLEAGUES UP THERE.

THEY LOOKED AT EATING HABITS IN THE UNIVERSITY RESTAURANTS, AND THEY POSTED CALORIE POSTING FOR THE FOODS IN THE RESTAURANTS TO SEE WHAT WOULD HAPPEN.

AND SURE ENOUGH, THE STUDENTS SORT OF CUT BACK ON TOTAL NUMBER OF CALORIES THEY ATE ESPECIALLY IN APPETIZERS AND ENTREES.

NOT SO MUCH IN DESSERTS AND DRINKS.

THE BAD NEWS IS THEY ONLY CUT BACK CALORIE CONSUMPTION BY 3%. I THINK WHAT WE'RE LOOKING AT WITH THAT IS IT'S DIFFICULT TO CHANGE CONSUMER HABITS BY WARNING THEM, BY SCARING THEM, BY PREACHING.

IN PART BECAUSE THEY OWN THE REAL ESTATE ON RESTAURANT MENUS AND ON PRODUCT PACKAGES.

THEY KNOW HOW TO GO AFTER OUR DEEPEST BIOLOGY AND GET US EXCITED ABOUT BUYING THEIR PRODUCTS.

WHAT NUTRITION ADVOCATES REALLY LOVE AND WHAT THE INDUSTRY REALLY HATES, AND THEY'RE FIGHTING AGAINST REALLY HARD, ARE TAXES.

BECAUSE WE ATE -- RATHER WE LOVE MONEY AS MUCH AS WE LOVE SUGAR, RIGHT?

SO PLACES THAT HAVE ADOPTED A FEW PENNIES TAX ON SUGARY PRODUCTS, I THINK BY AND LARGE YOU'RE SEEING A REDUCTION IN CONSUMPTION OF THOSE PRODUCTS.

IT'S HELPING PEOPLE TO REGAIN CONTROL OVER THEIR EATING HABITS.

WELL, LET'S GO BACK TO SOME OF FOOD GIANTS YOU MENTIONED.

WHEN PEOPLE MIGHT THINK OF FOOD GIANTS, THEIR IMMEDIATE THOUGHT IS FAST FOOD STORES THAT SEEM TO BE EVERYWHERE.

BUT FOOD GIANTS IS A LOT LARGER THAN WE'RE THINKING.

I'VE COME TO CALL THE STUFF IN THE GROCERY STORE I WRITE ON, FAST GROCERIES.

THAT'S PROBABLY 70% OR 80% OF THE THINGS FOUND IN THE GROCERY STORE, UNLIKE, SAY, THE PRODUCE AISLE.

YOU'VE SEEN THIS INVASION OF FAST FOOD IN THE ATTITUDE AND FORMULATIONS AND THE MARKETING OF GROCERY PRODUCTS.

WE STILL LIKE TO THINK ARE GOOD FOR US, BUT BASICALLY THERE'S TEN LARGE CORPORATIONS WORKING DAY AND NIGHT TO DO EVERYTHING THEY CAN USING PSYCHOLOGY AND FORMULATIONS AND MARKETING TO GET US TO NOT JUST LIKE THEIR PRODUCTS BUT WANT MORE AND MORE OF THEM, AND THAT'S WHAT WE'RE UP AGAINST.

AND NOT ONLY THAT, BUT TURNING AROUND AND SORT OF BLAMING US WENT WE LOSE CONTROL.

AND ONE OF THE SHOCKING THINGS I FOUND IN MY RECENT RESEARCH WAS NONE OTHER THAN THE PROCESSED FOOD INDUSTRY GAINED CONTROL, TOOK CONTROL OF THE DIETING INDUSTRY.

SO ON THE ONE HAND THEY'RE MIKING PRODUCTS THAT MAKE US OVERWEIGHT.

ON THE OTHER HAND THEY'RE SAYING HERE, JUST USE THIS SCHEME OR PRODUCT AND YOU CAN HAVE MORE WILLPOWER.

AND IT'S NOT ABOUT US.

IT'S NOT ABOUT WILLPOWER.

IT'S ABOUT THE COMPANIES DESIGNING PRODUCTS IN A WAY THAT COMPLETELY DESTROY OUR ABILITY TO SAY NO.

SPEAKING OF PRODUCTS THAT ARE DESIGN IN THE A WAY -- INABILITY TO SAY NO, I BELIEVE THERE'S BEEN RESEARCH, AND CORRECT ME IF I'M WRONG, ON JUST THE PRODUCT PLACEMENT.

IF YOU GO GROCERY SHOPPING AND YOU HAVE A SMALL CHILD, THERE ARE CERTAIN THINGS THAT ARE PLACED IN THEIR SIGHT LINE TO BASICALLY START A SCENE IN THE GROCERY STORE.

YEAH, YEAH, THE GROCERY STORE HAVE DONE DEVICES WHERE THEY PUT DEVICES ON PEOPLE'S HEADS AND MEASURE EYE MOVEMENTS.

THEY KNOW WHEN WE WALK IN THE CEREAL AISLE WE'LL GO DIRECTLY TO THE CENTER AISLE.

IF YOU NOTICE, IF YOU'RE SHOPPING FOR PLAIN OATMEAL IT'S GOING TO BE AT THE END OF THE AISLE DOWN ON THE FLOOR, AND ALL THE SUGARY VERSIONS -- 200 SUGARY VERSIONS OF STARCH THAT ARE THE BIGGEST SELLERS ARE GOING TO BE IN THE SAME AISLE.

THE MOMENT YOU WALK INTO A STORE, THEY'RE USING DEEP PSYCHOLOGY.

PSYCHOLOGY TO SHAPE OUR BUYING HABITS, TRYING TO SORT OF GET US OFF OUR SHOPPING LIST AND ACT IMPULSIVELY, AND THEY'RE REALLY, REALLY GOOD AT THAT.

WHAT ABOUT ALSO, BECAUSE YOU MENTIONED THE DIET INDUSTRY AND HOW A LOT OF THE BIG FOOD COMPANIES HAVE DO HAVE AN EFFECT ON THAT OR A HAND IN THAT, BUT ALSO AT THE SAME TIME THERE'S A LOT OF SO-CALLED HEALTHY VERSIONS OF FOOD OR ORGANIC FOOD YOU CAN BUY THAT ARE STILL PRODUCED BY THESE SAME LARGE COMPANIES.

THAT'S A REALLY GOOD POINT.

ONE OF THE THINGS IT DID WAS TO MOVE THROUGHOUT THE GROCERY STORE CREATING 'DIET' VERSIONS OF THEIR PRODUCT TO HAVE SLIGHTLY LESS TOTAL CALORIES THAN THE FULL VERSION.

BUT IT'S SITTING ON THE SHELF RIGHT NEXT TO THE FULL VERSION.

THEY'RE PUTTING THE ONUS ON US.

WE'RE SUPPOSED TO STAND THERE AND GO, HOW AM I FEELING THIS WEEK?

WILL I BUY THE FULL VERSION OR DIET VERSION?

AND IN THE END IT'S ALL MONEY AND PROFIT FOR THE COMPANIES.

IN THE END WHEN IT COMES TO THE HUMAN BODY, THOUGH, IS IT CALORIES OR SUGAR THAT'S MORE DETRIMENTAL TO OUR HEALTH?

I'M KIND OF AGNOSTIC ON THAT.

I THINK THAT ONE OF THE BIGGEST SIGNS OF A PRODUCT IN THE GROCERY STORE THAT MAY NOT BE THE BEST THING TO BUY IS CONVENIENCE, BECAUSE ONE OF THE HALLMARKS OF, LIKE, ADDICTIVE SUBSTANCES THAT CAUSES THAT IS SPEED.

THE FASTER THEY ARE, IS MORE APT WE ARE TO CONSUME, EVEN THOUGH WE KNOW WE SHOULDN'T.

AND EVERYTHING ABOUT THE PROCESSED FOOD INDUSTRY IS DESIGNED TO MAKE PRODUCTS THAT ARE SUPER FAST.

THE MANUFACTURING, THE PACKAGING, SO YOU CAN GET YOUR PAW IN THERE AND SCOOP OUT AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE.

AND OF COURSE THE SPEED WITH WHICH THE INGREDIENTS, AS WE MENTIONED, ZAP THAT REWARD CENTER OF THE BRAIN.

SO THAT'S THE WAY I HAVE BEEN LOOK AT PROCESSED FOOD LATELY IS NOT THE INDIVIDUAL NUTRITIONAL COMPONENTS LIKE SUGAR, FAT, OR SALT, BUT THAT OVERALL ABILITY OF THEIRS TO KNOCK US OFF OUR GAME AND GET US TO ACT COMPULSIVELY.

AND I THINK THE ANTI-DOTE FOR THAT IS LOOKING FOR WAYS TO SLOW DOWN.

THAT SEEMS LIKE IT MIGHT BE A SOCIETAL ISSUE, BECAUSE A PART OF WHY A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE LOOKING FOR FAST FOOD IS THEIR SCHEDULES ARE SO TIGHT BETWEEN WORK AND COMMUTING AND KIDS, BUT THAT'S A DIFFERENT CONVERSATION.

ABOUT THE PENDULUM SWINGING IN THE OTHER WAY.

WE ONLY HAVE A FEW -- ABOUT A MINUTE LEFT.

BUT THE CLEAN FOOD MOVEMENT SEEMS TO BE A REACTION TO SO MUCH SUGAR AND SO MANY PROCESSED FOODS.

I'M REALLY CAUTIOUS WHEN I TALK TO SCHOOL GROUPS, KIDSING RIGHT?

BECAUSE I DON'T WANT TO SCARE THEM TOO MUCH.

BECAUSE ONE OF THE REACTIONS IS TO FLIP THE OTHER WAY AND GET SO WORRIED ABOUT EVERYTHING YOU EAT THAT YOU GO CRAZY WITH IT, AND THAT CAN BE TOTALLY DETRIMENTAL TO KIDS.

THE CLEAN FOOD MOVEMENT I SEE BEING THIS PENDULUM SWING, AND WE'RE JUST HOPING AND PRAYING WE CAN GO BACK TO A TIME OR GO FORWARD TO A TIME WHERE WE CAN JUST, LIKE, SIT DOWN WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS AND ENJOY FOOD FOR WHAT IT IS WITHOUT HAVING TO WORRY ABOUT ALL THE NEGATIVES AND THE THINGS IT MAY DO TO US WE DON'T WANT TO HAVE HAPPEN, AND THAT'S WHAT I CERTAINLY WISH FOR.

ALL RIGHT, WELL, WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO LEAVE THE CONVERSATION THERE, BUT MICHAEL MOSS, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

OF COURSE YOUR CRITICALLY ACRIMED BOOK 'HOOKED, FREE WILL, AND HOW THE FOOD GIANTS EXPLOIT OUR ADDICTIONS'. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US AND TALKING ABOUT THE EFFECT OF FOOD ON ALL OF US.

I'M ACTUALLY THINKING ABOUT EATING RIGHT NOW, SO THAT'S INDICATIVE OF YOUR WHOLE STORY.

GREAT TO TALK TO YOU.

HAPPY COOKING, BY THE WAY.

THANK YOU.

> 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND, BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

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