Overeating Expands More than Just Your Waist

Published by Beth Bader, co-author of The Cleaner Plate Club book.

Always tough to talk overeating around the holidays, right? (insert flashback to that pie last week).

But a story on NPR got me thinking this morning. The main focus of the research compared the response of lab rats to sweet and fatty foods or to cocaine. The foods not only were more addictive in the drive to consume, but like the drugs, caused long term alterations to the brain. It certainly explains most of those moments when I believe I have to have chocolate … or else. But one tiny detail mentioned in the article stuck in my mind.

The lab mice fed a fatty diet when they were weaned to maturity became obese. Not only did their brains show significant alterations, but these alterations did not go away even after the test subjects were back at a normal weight. The pathways in the brain that responded to the pleasure of fatty and sweet foods built a tolerance. More and more of these foods were desired to illicit the pleasure response from the brain. Like an addiction.

The researcher quoted in the article summed it up best, noting that this phenomenon may explain why obese children tend to stay obese for life.

Which makes a pretty solid case for starting better eating habits with kids now before the pattern is too hard to overcome.

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5 Responses to Overeating Expands More than Just Your Waist

  1. Vikki says:

    Science is so confusing. I take this article to mean that I should start using cocaine. Is that right?

  2. BethB says:

    I would not recommend either cocaine or feeding our kids fatty/sugary diets, actually. I believe the science meant to review a comparison of a known addictive substance (cocaine) with a suspected addiction (fatty/sweet foods) to see if there is physical evidence to help understand why obesity is so hard to overcome. It definitely clarifies the misconception that “fat is a choice” with some understanding of how that early choice can become a physical addiction and very hard to overcome. I expect to see a lot more research on this as the current population of obese kids grows into obese adults and we see an escalating health crisis as a result.

    For me, it underscores even more how critical it is for us to feed our kids healthy foods from the start, or as soon as possible if their diets are on the wrong path. It will make things much easier on them as adults.


  3. I love NPR & have it on all day on my kitchen radio :) Nothing like a little “Prairie Home Companion” to entertain you whilst baking in kitchen on the weekends either..

    Regarding food addiction I completely agree.. even without the lab rats as proof. My dear husband is a prime example. I cook all natural, nothing processed, in season, from scratch and the poor guy still craves McD’s and the like. I could serve up a 5-star winning meal and nothing could win him over more than fast food. It’s discouraging at times, but at least my kids shouldn’t have the same troubles when they get older. I feel so bad for my hubby as he struggles with us and he certainly tries…

  4. Discipline is the key for to avoid any health problems because of too much eating. I had the same addiction before but with my support system and self-discipline, I was able to achieve the a healthy body and figure.

  5. Mike says:

    Every parent should read this! I wouldn’t want my kids to grow up unhealthy. It’s not too late to undo unhealthy habits. Thanks for sharing this article. This is truly a lifesaver.

    San Jose Property Manager

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