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The Dorito Effect

The Surprising New Truth About Food and Flavor

By Mark Schatzker
12-minute read
Audio available
The Dorito Effect: The Surprising New Truth About Food and Flavor by Mark Schatzker

The Dorito Effect explains how the quality of our food has diminished over the past century. Modern agricultural practices and the emergence of a huge synthetic flavor industry have radically altered the food we eat. The following blinks examine how these significant changes have led to unhealthy eating habits and soaring obesity rates.

  • Anyone interested in losing weight and living a healthier life
  • Foodies looking to cultivate their taste buds
  • People concerned about the amount of artificial ingredients in their food

Mark Schatzker is an award-winning journalist, travel writer and food lover. He is also the author of Steak: One Man’s Search for the World’s Tastiest Piece of Beef as well as a frequent contributor to The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

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The Dorito Effect

The Surprising New Truth About Food and Flavor

By Mark Schatzker
  • Read in 12 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 7 key ideas
Upgrade to Premium Read or listen now
The Dorito Effect: The Surprising New Truth About Food and Flavor by Mark Schatzker
Synopsis

The Dorito Effect explains how the quality of our food has diminished over the past century. Modern agricultural practices and the emergence of a huge synthetic flavor industry have radically altered the food we eat. The following blinks examine how these significant changes have led to unhealthy eating habits and soaring obesity rates.

Key idea 1 of 7

Despite decades of popular diet plans and weight-loss programs, obesity rates continue to rise.

Have you ever run into an old friend at the supermarket and excitedly said, “You look great! When’s the baby due?” at which point she bursts into tears and you realize she’s not pregnant but has just put on weight? This is what once happened to a woman named Jean Nidetch in the fall of 1961, and it ended up changing the lives of millions.

The U.S. has seen a dramatic increase in obesity rates since the 1960s. Back then only 0.9 percent of the population suffered extreme obesity, whereas that number has since skyrocketed to 6.4 percent. Perhaps even more troubling is that a whopping 69 percent of Americans now fall into the clinical category of overweight or obese.

These statistics seem to defy the fact that Americans have spent trillions of dollars on dietary plans and products between 1989 and 2012: a period in which obesity rates doubled. One such plan is Weight Watchers, started by Nidetch, who wanted to help people lose weight by going to a support group with other overweight people. And yet, despite popular programs such as that, the life-threatening trend continues.

Because, let’s face it, obesity isn’t just an issue of aesthetics. It’s a serious illness that requires a cure. Obesity brings with it an increased risk of asthma, cancer, heart failure, high blood pressure, diabetes and arthritis: all of which can contribute to disease and disability. And, the issue of aesthetics is also a factor as obese people, especially women, find themselves socially marginalized and unable to find well-paid work.

So what’s happened in the past 50 years to cause this? Why has weight control been such a difficult thing to achieve?

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