How the Free Market makes you FAT and why “Big Food” likes it that way

Why are more and more of us getting fatter and fatter?

Is it…


Is it because “Big Food” wants us to be fat?

Now, before someone labels me as a conspiracy theorist, hear me out…

  • Food producers earn more profit from processed foods – i.e potato chips v.s. potatoes
  • Processed foods (high calorie, high glycemic index and low nutrient value) increase your appetite
  • Your increased appetite causes you to eat more food
  • And when you eat all of the food in your house, you have to rush out and buy more food
  • And the food producers make more money

And, there’s nothing wrong with that…It’s a free market

Or, is it?

According to Dr. Peter Ubel, in his new book – Free Market Madness – food producers spend a lot of money learning why you buy the things that you buy.

In some supermarket today, an anthropologist is wandering the aisles watching how you shop, observing whether your eyes roam the shelves from top to bottom or bottom to top, and measuring how long you linger in front of display cases if you have toddlers in tow.

The simple fact is, you know less about your own shopping behavior than the people running the stores that you shop at.

Because of this, is it any wonder, that people have purchased themselves into debt, with the American citizenry demonstrating a negative savings rate in recent years?

And is it really surprising that our hospitals are teeming with people whose diseases are a result of smoking, drinking, and overeating?

Western-style democracies pride themselves on freedom: freedom to assemble, freedom to elect legislators, and freedom to interact in the marketplace. Indeed, capitalism and democracy seem to go hand in hand.

But freedom to choose is accompanied by the freedom to make bad choices.

And in the current marketplace, filled with companies that make a practice of studying human behavior, freedom too often leads to harm and misery.

(and obesity and type 2 diabetes and fatty liver and hip replacement surgeries and gastric bypass operantions and…)

Proctor & Gamble owns multimillion-dollar functional (fMRI) MRI machines, which enable the company to visualize which part of your brain “lights up” when you view its products.

Psychology and sociology PhDs leave academia to work for industry or Madison Avenue, where they can employ their knowledge of human behavior in the service of selling consumer goods.

We might think that we’re impervious to television ads or supermarket sales schemes.

But marketers and sales experts know more about our behavior than we do, and they know how to influence us without our awareness.

So, how do you defeat all of the psychological tricks that the food producers and marketing gurus are throwing at you?

  1. Before you go to the supermarket, decide what food you NEED. (if you’re confused about which foods you NEED, here’s a cheat sheet – vegetables, non-processed protein, fruit, non-inflammatory fats, spices, herbs)
  2. Write out your food list.
  3. And then stick to that list

That’s it.

Note – If you are interested in learning more about how the free market isn’t as free as you think it is, check out Free Market Madness by Dr. Peter Ubel. Amazon Indigo Barnes & Noble


  1. Another option is to shop in a natural foods store, hopefully one without too much in the way of frozen pizzas and other processed food. I notice wrt processed food, the more expensive Farmer’s Markets seem to have a lot more “value added” products, like instead of just selling apples, they sell apple bread/cookies/cider, etc. Fortunately, mine is still old style and most of the people who shop there don’t eat much in the way of cheese, bread, cake, or cookies.

    I think it’s true to some extent that we are all responsible for ourselves, but there should be some restraint by corporations that profit from harming our health. I don’t know the answers.

  2. People need to read the lables carefully. After being laid off last year, I ate cheaply. Soups are cheap and good in the winter. I usually make my own but not this year. So I got the raman type soups, good, filling and cheap for lunches. I started to gain weight even when I was very active. I read the label and the fat content was shocking.

    Not to mention the labels are misleading. Do the math. Doesnt look too bad at first glance until you look at the serving size of that little can, then multiple and it is not good at all. Especially with fat content and sodium.

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