Thursday, January 8, 2009

Things You Never Knew About Your Weight

     The New York Daily News published an interesting article, "8 Things You Never Knew About Your Weight." While I would argue that some of the research covered is actually well-known, some of it has not been highly publicized. My favorite 3 points:

3. Sleep More, Lose More

     "When patients see Dr. Louis Aronne, past president of the Obesity Society and author of the forthcoming book "The Skinny," they're as likely to have their sleep assessed as their eating habits. If patients are getting less than seven to eight hours, Aronne may prescribe more shuteye rather than the latest diet drug. With sleep, he says, "they have a greater sense of fullness, and they'll spontaneously lose weight."

     Why? University of Chicago researchers reported that sleep deprivation upsets our hormone balance, triggering both a decrease in leptin (which helps you feel full) and an increase of ghrelin (which triggers hunger). As a result, we think we're hungry even though we aren't - and so we eat. Indeed, sleep may be the cheapest and easiest obesity treatment there is."

     Anytime I have to get up earlier than normal, I wake up ravenous. If I stay up late working on something, the same thing happens. My body needs energy, and if I don't sleep, it craves fuel in the form of food.

4. Your Spouse's Weight Matters

     "... research shows that weight gain and loss can be, well, contagious. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that if one spouse is obese, the other is 37% more likely to become obese, too. The researchers concluded that obesity seems to spread through social networks."

     Doesn't it seem as if your weight seems to go up and down with that of a significant other? And I actually had a former roommate tell me the other day she thinks she's gained weight because she lives with her boyfriend now instead of me.

5. Cookies Really Are Addictive

     "While food is not addictive the way cocaine or alcohol is, scientists in recent years have found some uncanny similarities. When subjects at Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia were shown the names of foods they liked, the parts of the brain that got excited were the same parts activated in drug addicts. It may have to do with dopamine, the hormone linked to motivation and pleasure, say researchers at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, N.Y. If obese people have fewer dopamine receptors, they may need more food to get that pleasurable reaction."
     There has also been some research conducted on sugar addiction in rats. Professor Bart Hoebel and other researchers in the Department of Psychology and the Princeton Neuroscience Institute have demonstrated that rats who consume high levels of sugar can experience withdrawal symptoms when it's removed from their diet. They're then more likely to binge on it when it's reintroduced later.

     Basically, food has similarities with any other substance that causes changes in your brain. We associate it with pleasure. The problem begins when it becomes a primary source of pleasure. And food or drugs shouldn't be the first thing we turn to when feeling low.


stainedsugar said...

This was a really interesting article. I totally agree with the point that your weight can rise and fall along with that of your spouse/significant other. I was basically living with my overweight ex for about 7 months and I gained at least 15 pounds because we were always eating out and getting fast food instead of cooking meals at home. Bad idea! Don't let your significant other's poor eating habits rub off on you!

Erin said...

Yeah, my ex-boyfriend just moved out recently and my eating habits are already changing. Thanks for sharing your perspective!

prasouda diet said...

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