Mark Schatzker

Author, "The End of Craving" | Writer-in-residence, Modern Diet and Physiology Research Center, Yale University
Mark Schatzker is a bestselling author, journalist and internationally recognized authority on the science of nutrition, pleasure and wellness. The writer-in-residence at the Modern Diet and Physiology Research Center, affiliated with Yale University, Schatzker’s refreshing and original explorations into food are informed by history, cultural observation and an obsessive depth of scientific knowledge. His writing has appeared in publications ranging from The New York Times to The Best American Travel Writing and Annual Review of Psychology.

In his latest book, The End of Craving, Schatzker delves into the science of overeating and discovers that nearly everything we have been taught about diet and body weight is wrong. Contrary to popular belief, humans are not “wired” to over-consume calories and store them as fat. The human brain, rather, possesses an exquisite intelligence when it comes to eating. It controls body weight with the same precision as it controls body temperature and heart rate.

Obesity, furthermore, is not characterized by an excess of pleasure or indulgence. As a detailed examination of modern neuroscience reveals, something is causing the brains of millions of people to crave too much food. Schatzker traces that cause not to carbohydrates or fat, but to additives that alter the sensory aspects of food, causing the brain to work harder to obtain its expected reward, which we experience as an unrelenting desire to eat.

Despite the grave statistics, Schatzker remains rousingly optimistic. He points to the example of northern Italians, who enjoy an outstandingly rich and delicious diet along with an astonishingly low rate of obesity. The simple experience of eating engages a complex biology and possesses a wisdom we are just beginning to understand. If the example of Italy tells us anything it is that food was not meant to be feared but to be enjoyed.

Schatzker’s career began with a dinner on a beach in Chile in 1997 when he asked an apparently simple question, Why does this steak taste so good? That lead to his first book, Steak, a rollicking narrative in which he not only travelled the world in search of the greatest piece of beef but began to ask questions that would shape his career. What foods should humans eat? How do animals know what to eat? What is the relationship between flavor and nutrition?

He addressed these questions head-on in his subsequent book, The Dorito Effect, which examines changes in food and diet through the lens of flavor. Like animals, humans possess nutritional wisdom, an in-built ability to seek out needed nutrients. Flavor, Schatzker shows, is the brain’s language of nutrition — a language no longer suited to the modern food environment. Thanks to high output agriculture, whole foods become ever more bland. Junk food, meanwhile, increasingly possesses the flavors that are being lost on the farm.

Schatzker’s writing on food has been called “illuminating and radical” by the New York Times Book Review; a writer with “wit, grace, and pace” (Bloomberg). Celebrated for his ability to make the most complex science clear and compelling. He has appeared on network television more than seventy-five time on shows that include CBS Good Morning, Good Morning America, and Bloomberg News.


The End of Craving

For the last 50 years, we have been fighting a losing war on food. We have cut fat, reduced carbs, eliminated sugar, and attempted every conceivable diet only to find that 88 million American adults are prediabetic, more than a hundred million have high blood pressure, and nearly half now qualify as obese. The harder we try to control what we eat, the more unhealthy we become. Why? In this stunning talk, Mark Schatzker shows how changes in the sensory properties of food—its taste and flavor — are fuelling an unnatural drive to eat. Taste, far from being some frivolous aspect of food, is essential to nutrition and metabolism. The modern food environment has become saturated with technological additives that deceive the brain about the nutritional makeup of the food entering the body, a phenomenon called nutritive mismatch. Drawing on a body of scholarship in reinforcement psychology as well as behavioral economics, Schatzker shows that the brain responds by becoming more motivated to obtain its expected reward. The desire to consume calories thus exceeds the body’s need for calories.

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The Dorito Effect

Since the 1940s, with the rise of industrialized food production, we have been gradually leeching the taste out of what we grow. Simultaneously, we have taken great leaps forward in technology, creating a flavor industry, worth billions annually, in an attempt to put back the tastes we’ve engineered out of our food. The result is a national cuisine that increasingly resembles the paragon of flavor manipulation: Doritos. As food — all food — becomes increasingly bland, we dress it up with calories and flavor chemicals to make it delicious again. We have rewired our palates and our brains, and the results are making us sick and killing us. With in-depth historical and scientific research, this talk casts the food crisis in a fascinating new light, weaving an enthralling tale of how we got to this point and where we are headed. We are on the cusp of a new revolution in agriculture that will allow us to eat healthier and live longer by enjoying flavor the way nature intended.

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Are Vitamins Causing Obesity?

At the turn of the last century, the American South and northern Italy were in the grip of a mysterious pandemic called pellagra, a condition caused by a deficiency of the vitamin b3, also called niacin. The US government responded by “enriching” or “fortifiying” bread, pasta, rice and other refined carbs with B vitamins. Italy, on the other hand, saw poverty as the cause of pellagra and passed laws to give the poor access to better food. More than a hundred years later, these once similar food environments could not be more different. Once known as the pellagra belt, the US South has become the Obesity Belt. Northern Italians, on the other hand, enjoy an incomparably delicious diet, but, amazingly, are barely afflicted by obesity? In this thought-provoking talk, Mark Schatzker asks if decades-old government policy could have had unforeseen consequences. Pointing to the example of livestock, he shows how fortification of pig feed in the 1950s supercharged their growth curve and forever changed farming.

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The End of Craving with Mark Schatzker | Eat Move Think ep 92
Mark Schatzker
The End of Craving: Recovering the Lost Wisdom of Eating Well
Mark Schatzker
Farming and Ranching for the Bottom Line | Menoken Farm
Mark Schatzker
Do vitamins help us gain weight and crave junk? | Plant Chompers
Mark Schatzker
Can We Eat Our Way Out of Obesity? | The Agenda with Steve Paikin
Mark Schatzker


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Will we ever solve the obesity crisis?
Genetic Literacy Project
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Where’s The Beef? One Man’s Search For ‘Steak’
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Toronto author theorizes that vitamins and ‘better-for-you food’ could be contributing to obesity
The Star
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The End of Craving with Mark Schatzker
Radio West
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‘The End of Craving’ Review: Why You Can’t Eat Just One
The Wall Street Journal
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The Dorito Effect: Healthy food is blander than ever — and it’s making us fat
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Teachers’ unions are blocking better education during the pandemic
National Post
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New research shows humans possess surprising nutritional intelligence
Eureka Alert
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Humans don’t just eat for calories, but have ‘nutritional wisdom’ to seek micornutrients
National Post
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How to end cravings
ABC News
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Do humans possess ‘nutritional wisdom’?
Medical News Today


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