USDA APPOINTS “MINDLESS EATING” AUTHOR TO HELP US MIND OUR EATING

Wow, this is just so unexpected that I hardly know what to think. As Marion Nestle wrote on her blog today, “Every now and then something incredible happens and here it is. Brian Wansink, Cornell Professor and author of Mindless Eating, has been appointed executive director of the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.”

After years of watching the cavalcade of cronies this administration has appointed to every conceivable position, I find myself experiencing the utterly foreign impulse to enthusiastically applaud a federal appointment.

Wansink’s the guy who did the “stale popcorn study,” which demonstrated that people will eat pretty much whatever you put in front of them, and as much of it as you give them, regardless of how it tastes. He’s an internationally acclaimed professor with decades of experience studying food psychology, marketing and consumer behavior. His most recent book, Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think, was dubbed “The Freakonomics of Food.”

If anyone can help us get a handle on our love handles, it’s Wansink. His duties will include overseeing the 2010 Dietary Guidelines and the food pyramid, that unintelligible hieroglyph that’s supposed to help us make better choices.

Will Wansink be able to overhaul our dietary guidelines over the inevitable kvetching from the food industry lobbyists? Pull up a chair and pass the popcorn; this could get interesting.