Week #20 – Chris van Tulleken – Ultra-Processed People

This week’s blurb breakdown is Chris Van Tulleken’s Ultra-Processed People.

At the time of writing it was 5th in the best-selling books category on Amazon UK’s store.

Here’s the blurb…

Here’s the Amazon link for a closer look

The breakdown…



‘If you only read one diet or nutrition book in your life, make it this one’ Bee Wilson

‘A devastating, witty and scholarly destruction of the shit food we eat and why’ Adam Rutherford

Here we go with another social proof sandwich – except this is an open sandwich, they haven’t closed with an extra layer of social proof bread at the end. Does it affect the blurb? Let’s see..

They also use the little line break to signify the start of the blurb proper—another common tactic.  

An eye-opening investigation into the science, economics, history and production of ultra-processed food.

This is a hook that I call the ‘says-what-it-is’ style hook. It’s plain and simple, often overlooked, but a solid choice to create interest. I really like the use of ‘Eye-opening’ here, as opposed to ‘discover’ or ‘learn’. There’s something more active about it.    

It’s not you, it’s the food.

This sentence feels a bit random stuck in here. It’s not got a lot of context – other than the food factor. But if I wasn’t thinking about my problems, I’d be wondering, what’s not me?

I guess they’re using a presupposition tactic, which is to say that the reader already believes they have a problem. Presuppositions are used in NLP and hypnosis. You can read more about it here.

We have entered a new ‘age of eating’ where most of our calories come from an entirely novel set of substances called Ultra-Processed Food, food which is industrially processed and designed and marketed to be addictive. But do we really know what it’s doing to our bodies?

This paragraph sounds authoritative and uses certain words to trigger us into fear mode – ultra-processed, industrially processed, marketed to be addictive. It positions UPF as dangerous.

The ‘entirely novel set of substances’ taps into our natural aversion to the unknown and contrasts that with our desire for safety and security. 

Join Chris in his travels through the world of food science and a UPF diet to discover what’s really going on. Find out why exercise and willpower can’t save us, and what UPF is really doing to our bodies, our health, our weight, and the planet (hint: nothing good).

This is really ramping up the fear department. It also has a ‘we’re off the hook’ vibe. People find it difficult to accept fault, so saying that we’re not responsible for poor health or an inability to lose weight makes it easier to accept. It also creates a curiosity as to what the causes are. 

For too long we’ve been told we just need to make different choices, when really we’re living in a food environment that makes it nigh-on impossible. So this is a book about our rights. The right to know what we eat and what it does to our bodies and the right to good, affordable food.

Another key theme in the book’s description is empowerment. By framing the book as a call to action and a fight for consumer rights, the author is appealing to people’s desire for autonomy and control in their lives.

The message is that by understanding the science behind UPF and making informed choices about what we eat, we can take back control of our health and wellbeing.

It positions the author as a trusted and authoritative voice in the field of nutrition and offers readers a sense of control and agency in an increasingly complex and confusing food landscape.

The fact that they haven’t closed the social proof sandwich doesn’t affect the blurb, in my opinion. In fact, I think it was a solid choice because the last, lingering thought a reader has is a bit of a rally cry.

It makes you go ‘yeah, too right. I wanna know what we’re being fed and what it’s doing to our bodies.’ Which is far stronger than ending on a claim of credibility.

Overall, it’s well written blurb.

Have you got any questions about it?

Want to suggest a book description to breakdown?

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