Review: Stuffed: An Insider’s Look at Who’s {Really} Making America Fat by Hank Cardello with Doug Carr

by Rebeca on March 11, 2009

Stuffed: An Insider’s Look at Who’s {Really} Making America Fat
Hank Cardello with Doug Carr
Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
272 pages
In 1995, Hank Cardello had a serious health scare and later an epiphany. His doctors thought he had leukemia. After several tests, it turned out he was suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome, and Cardello learned that he could no longer eat the foods he desired or burn the candle at both ends. What he had to do was change his lifestyle. Easy enough, but there was one little catch–Hank Cardello was a marketer to some of the largest food and beverage corporations in the world. He realized after his health problems that his nutritional needs had to change and, in good faith, he could no longer advocate products and practices that would negatively affect consumers’ health. With that new mindset, he decided to “to do my part to reenvision how the food industry dealt with health.”
In his new book Stuffed, Cardello explores how food companies have spent the last 50 years focused on the bottom line and profits and ignoring healthier options while pushing consumers to growing portions and junk food. 
Cardello doesn’t really offer anything new, but as a former marketer, he does provide some interesting tidbits including the “arc of activity,” which represents the critical six inches above and below five foot six–the average female height–of supermarket shelving and one of the most coveted spots for any product. Products geared for men are shelved higher (at about five feet eight inches) because they are taller; for women lower at five feet even. 
Cardello also examines the restaurant business and “the people behind the menus” and explains how restaurants practice the science of Menu Engineering “a design strategy that increases overall sales and profits by promoting your low-cost and high-priced menu items.” Later in the chapter, he discusses the how government has played a role by mandating that restaurants list the caloric content of the foods served.
Subsequent chapters deal with purchasing agents and how they determine which food items are cheaper to buy, but provide higher profit margins to the role of government within the food industry, and finally to the quest in healthier food. Overall, Stuffed is a very good introduction for readers interested in an insider’s view of how food has been marketed and politicized.  

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