July 12, 2012

Dr. David Kessler

Dr. David Kessler

Marcia Franklin talks with former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner David Kessler. The pediatrician, lawyer and author served as the head of the FDA from November 1990 to February 1997. During his tenure at the federal agency, he was known for his efforts to regulate cigarettes, speed the approval of medications for life-threatening illnesses, and start the nutrition labeling program.

Dr. Kessler's New York Times-bestselling book, The End of Overeating, asserts that fat, salt and sugar in processed foods have an addictive quality that changes brain chemistry, seduces people to eat more than they should, and sets children up for a lifetime of overeating. Franklin discusses those findings with Dr. Kessler, as well as ways to avoid overeating. The two also discuss potential public policy changes to address obesity, such as increasing taxes on sugared sodas, requiring nutrition labeling in restaurants, and regulating portion sizes.

In a Web Extra, Franklin asks Kessler about tobacco regulation, which Congress approved as an FDA mandate in 2009.

Dr. Kessler is the recipient of many honors, including the 2001 National Academy of Sciences Public Welfare Medal and the American Cancer Society's Medal of Honor. He has also served as the dean of the medical schools at Yale and the University of California, San Francisco, and is currently a professor of pediatrics and epidemiology and biostatistics at UCSF.