WHS reader David Lawrence sent me an article titled "Pizza Hut's new Doritos Crunchy Crust Pizza is every kid's dream food", and this Australian creation is indeed quite a beauty. Not only is the crust made from Doritos chips-- it's also stuffed with cheese.
This pizza is a nutritional disaster. But let's be honest: it isn't that different than regular pizza. Why would anyone eat such a thing? Food reward.
Is it true that Doritos pizza is a kid's dream food? I do think it would be particularly compelling for children. Children are more attuned than adults to basic food reward properties such as sugar and fat, and they also haven't yet developed cognitive aversions to particularly unhealthy foods. They are also highly attuned to "cool" foods that confer social status in their peer group. Children don't understand that they shouldn't eat Doritos pizza-- they only understand that they like it.
The pull of food reward on daily behavior becomes obvious when we consider the foods that US children eat the most of. Here are the top five calorie sources for US children, according to the USDA (1):
- Grain-based desserts (cake, cookies)
- Soda/energy/sports drinks
- Yeast breads
- Chicken and chicken mixed dishes (including fried chicken)