FOOD, FACTS and FADS

Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health

Our National Eating Disorder: Facing the Facts

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Preventing obesity in childhood and adults is the primary goal. Many adults gain weight at a slow pace as they age (about a pound a year); however, others gain a substantial amount in a shorter period of time primarily between the ages of 25 and 34 years. Perhaps we are taking the wrong approach in helping people restrict that “natural” weight gain by using very restrictive fad diets (less calories) that often fail to result in maintaining weight after weight loss.

Since our food environment does not seem to change, more emphasis on mindful eating should be taught early in life by paying more attention to the “I’m hungry” and “I’m full” signals of our bodies.  Because appetite is triggered by external cues such as the sight and smell of food, it is usually appetite, and not hunger that makes us stop for ice cream or chocolate chip cookies while at the mall.

Getting eight hours of sleep at night may also be somewhat effective. Lack of sleep is linked to obesity, new evidence shows. Inadequate sleep impacts secretion of the signal hormones ghrelin, which increases appetite, and leptin, which indicates when the body is satiated. This can lead to increased food intake without the compensating energy expenditure. Paying attention to the kinds and amounts of food we consume can also help.  Studies have also indicated that eating fast may lead to eating more. It takes about 15 minutes for your brain to decode that your stomach is full.

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