Can’t shed those pounds and inches despite all your best intentions?

Remember that really junk science stuff about how we only use x-y-z percent of our brain. Well, besides being just that – Junk Science – we now have evidence that at least a few parts of our brain are hiding in waiting (or is that weight-ing???) as part of an on-going conspiracy to make some people fat.

Can’t shed those pounds and inches despite all your best intentions? Blame it on your anterior cingulate cortex and the medial orbitofrontal cortex — brain areas that have been implicated in an addict’s urge to use drugs.

Weight loss informationResearcher Ashley Gearhardt, a clinical psychology doctoral student at Yale University and her team studied 48 women with an average age of 21 whose body mass ranged from lean to obese. Subjects completed a research questionnaire that included statements like “I find that when I start eating certain foods, I end up eating much more than I had planned.”  Subjects rated how closely the questionnaire statements, which were based on an established assessment tool for measuring drug addiction, matched their own experience.  Functional magnetic resonant imaging (fMRI) studies were also completed to allow researchers to understand how subjects brains’ responded to the anticipation and consumption of chocolate milkshakes and a tasteless solution

The researchers found that the brains of subjects who scored higher on the food-addiction survey exhibited brain activity similar to that seen in drug addicts, with greater activity in regions of the brain responsible for cravings and less activity in the regions that curb cravings or urges. And, both lean and obese subjects who scored high in the test for food addiction showed the same brain activity indicative of addiction. The researchers reported that simply seeing images of a milkshake triggered brain activity in the anterior cingulate cortex and the medial orbitofrontal cortex — brain areas that have been implicated in an addict’s urge to use drugs.

And more food, diet and anti-obesity news:

Before the Idaho Potato Commission sues me for defaming their spuds’ collective reputation, let me be the first to declare that extra-large, well-baked Idaho potatoes – with crisp skins and garnished with my homemade pesto sauce – are a culinary delight.

But (Isn’t there always a but!), a new study in the June 23, 2011 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine puts a big part of the blame for American obesity at the feet of extra servings of potatoes – French fried, mashed with butter, boiled, baked or crispy chips. (BTW, I know potatoes have eyes, but can they have feet?)

The Harvard University based researchers tracked the lifestyle choices of more than 120,000 health professionals from around the country for at least 12 years. They found that participants gained an average 0.8 pounds a year – 16 pounds over 20 years.

While potatoes have been certified as “heart healthy” by the American Heart Association and good sources of Vitamin C, several B vitamins, and minerals including iron, potassium, phosphorus and magnesium, individuals who ate an extra serving of French fries every day gained an average of 3.4 pounds over a four-year period. An extra serving of potato chips each day added an average of 1.7 pounds every four years.

Problem is that, while taters might be great food if we eat them raw, pack on sour cream or butter or fry ‘em. Ooooooops! Besides, those tubers prompt a quick spike in blood-sugar levels and cause the pancreas to go into overdrive attempting to bring levels back down to normal. While the blood sugar levels spiral down, many individuals experience hunger, resulting in snacking. And this cycle can result in significant weight gain, pancreatic fatigue, and, in the worst cases, the development of Type 2 Diabetes.

And, those taters can hold a lot of calories: 278 in a large backed potato even before you pile on any of the good stuff or 500-600 calories in a serving of French fries

But to be fair to the poor potato, it’s not the only cause of American obesity. Every additional sugary soft drink per day represented an additional one pound per year and extra servinvg of red and processed meats were just under that. And, consuming an extra alcoholic drink equaled close to half a pound more every four years and extra glass of 100 percent fruit juices each day  packed on almost one-third of a pound over four years.

Posted in: Addiction, Health & Exercise

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