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Surprising Science

How the Junk Food Industry Hooked America

Corporations like Frito-Lay and Coca-Cola have poured enormous amounts of money into creating snack foods and drinks filled with sugar and fat. The result has been a public health epidemic. 

What’s the Latest Development?

If you’ve eaten a baby carrot recently, and perhaps thought better of yourself for enjoying a healthy snack food, you are not alone. As obesity has become a national health concern, advertisers have turned to old tricks to market healthier products. Jeffrey Dunn, who once directed Coca-Cola’s sales in North and South America, is currently atoning for his previous marketing efforts (bringing Coke into Brazil’s poorest neighborhoods called favelas) by pitching healthy snacks to food producers using slogans such as “Eat ’Em Like Junk Food.”

What’s the Big Idea?

Through the 1990s, the food industry poured massive investments into making snack foods packed with sugar and fat, all under the guise of giving the customer what it wants. The research and development put into these snack foods is astounding, from measuring the rate at which foods dissolve in the mouth to the pressure per square inch needed to make a chip snap in half. While attempts are now being made at some corporations to respond to the public health crisis, solutions such as reducing the salt content in foods could ironically result in higher caloric intake per individual. 


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