The science behind overeating


[Music plays] Well, the reality is
that people eat for a lot of reasons. Most of the time if you ask somebody
why they’re eating they’re going to tell you because of hunger. But if you start to list all the reasons
we eat; we eat because of stress, we eat because of the time of the day,
we eat because of social occasions. You rarely get together with a group of
friends and you walk into their house and they say, “Wanna go for a walk?” They say, “Do you want a beverage? Do you want something to eat?” So, we eat for all these reasons and one
of the reasons is pleasure and taste. And when we’re offered foods that
are really, really tasty to us or even in animal studies we’ve done
even rats like cake frosting as well. And rats will open up an Oreo
cookie and lick out the middle. So, we as animals we enjoy
that sweet/fat combination. And so, those are brought into the
holiday season in a tremendous way. It’s the type of the food, it’s the time
of the year, it’s the social occasions. And we use food as a nurturing material. I mean, everybody knows that
they like to feed somebody. It feels good when someone comes
and visits and you give them food. They feel good about that. So it’s the season as well as the type of food. Well, one could use foods that
are less concentrated in calories. You know, we tend to eat for volume, amount that
sits in front of us and if you use something with a lot of water and air
in it, it has fewer calories because water and air don’t have any calories. So, if you were to put fruits and
vegetables out instead of cookies, you would be helping people in that way. And offering both is another way of dealing
with it where you have fruits as well as some sweet treats that are
traditional for the holidays. I think that one of the things you have to
do is really think about what you’re eating. You can’t just eat automatically. So, when someone puts all this food in
front of you, one of the dangers is variety. Smorgasbord kind of a set-up. You go over to somebody’s house and they
have twenty different things on the table. So, one thing that would be
helpful is to have less variety. There’s something called sensory specific
satiety, it’s an interesting area. If you eat a lot of sugar after a while you
get tired of it, and you go for the pretzels. Then when you get the pretzels, you get
tired of that, go back to the sugar. And so if you have enough variety and
if you have a smorgasbord set-up like, I won’t mention any particular restaurants,
but those that have a whole variety of foods available if you take a little
bit of everything you’re in trouble. Because it adds up to a whole lot. So, I would say presenting less food
using smaller plates, having less variety, is probably one way of helping others. But, most people won’t want to do that. I mean, there’s been a lot of work that’s
been done with humans in terms of looking at portion size and finding out,
there’s studies that have been done if you give people a lot more food,
guess what, they eat a lot more food. If you give somebody a big bucket of popcorn
versus a small bucket they may want more if there’s a small bucket but after the
big one they’re eating a lot more calories than they need to. So, portion control is a very important part
and that’s been shown repeatedly with people. Modifying the behavior of an individual in terms
of not having food at every time of the day but trying to regulate it a little bit more, not having food for meetings
and things of that sort. So, there’s been a fair amount of work that way. There’s been, we’ve studied various
drugs over the years that might be useful or not so useful for weight control. The best drugs that have ever come
out don’t, you don’t lose any more than ten percent of your body weight anyway. But if you’re three hundred
pounds and you lose thirty pounds, it does help you in terms of health.