Der Bittere Trank

The Imperative to Make Food Unpleasant

Scientific progress is sometimes tedious, but inevitable nonetheless. And thanks to progress in nutrition research, at long last, we have a clear understanding of the root cause of obesity. It is hyper-palatable food – too much food that tastes too good. A new analysis in the Lancer Nutrition provides the confirmation that food policy experts have been confident would come. To reverse decades of rising obesity, the imperative in food policy must be to make food unpleasant.

Data from the UK Biobank

Agatha Hannigan and colleagues analyzed data from 221 million individuals in the UK Biobank. Using Mendelian randomization they found evidence for a causal relationship between hyper-palatable foods and the rising risk of obesity. In a press release, she explained their findings:

“With our analysis, we have more than sufficient statistical power to demonstrate that the rising palatability of food is the key driver of obesity risk over time.

“For decades now, more and more of the food we’ve been feeding our kids has been way too palatable. Early in my career, when I undertook extensive practical training in childcare, the kids would complain about the food, but I knew it was good for them. Now, food marketers have come up with an endless array industrially formulated foods that taste unnaturally good. This is terrible.”

Policy to Drive Palatability Down

These new findings make it clear. The food policy imperative must be to create incentives and regulations that will give us a food supply that is, relatively speaking, more unpleasant. No doubt, this will take bold action. Food marketing is a big part of the problem. Marketers are constantly coming up with new products that taste great because they know taste is the number one driver of food sales. Then they advertise and promote these monstrously palatable foods to defenseless children and vulnerable populations.

It won’t be easy to overcome this systemic bias for tasty foods. But it is the key to reforming our obviously broken global food systems. Researcher Tera Fazzino explained that we do have options:

“For example, while we can’t regulate categories of foods, such as desserts, we could provide specific information to legislators regarding the specific levels of ingredients that may enhance palatability in a way that may make foods difficult to stop eating.”

On this first day of April, we can see it quite clearly. One word will drive the future of food policy: yuck. 😝

Chick here for a full understanding of this impressive body of research.

Der Bittere Trank, painting by Adriaen Brouwer / WikiArt

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April 1, 2023

3 Responses to “The Imperative to Make Food Unpleasant”

  1. April 01, 2023 at 10:03 am, Angie Golden said:

    I totally forgot it was April Fools day!

  2. April 01, 2023 at 10:24 am, Allen Browne said:

    Happy April Fools Day!

    Thanks for the 😊

    Spring is here🌻


  3. April 01, 2023 at 11:50 am, Leah said:

    Ha! good one, Ted. 🙂