Food preferences
> 1/17/2006 9:14:12 AM

A 2004 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that deaths due to poor diet and physical inactivity rose by 33 percent over the past decade and may soon overtake tobacco as the leading preventable cause of death.  A 2005 poll by the Harvard School of Public Health found that while three-fourths of people agreed that obesity was a serious problem that can lead to other serious health problems.

 

So whatís going on?  We need to eat to survive, but if eating were just about survival, we would only eat when we were hungry.  Further, likes and dislikes would not enter into the equation; we would eat healthy and flavor would not matter.  Yet this goes even beyond issues of taste.  Why do some people like food thatís chewy? Or hate food thatís lumpy?  Or wonít eat food of a certain color?  

 

We develop individual differences and preferences through different food experiences and attitudes, as well as in response to various cues.  And, letís admit it, eating can be a pleasurable experience, and humans have a tendency to try to maximize their pleasure. 

 

However, a study by David J. Mela in the journal Obesity Research found that ďfood choice is not just about taste preferences and there is not clear evidence that problems of weight control directly reflect individual differences in food liking or enjoyment. It may be important to distinguish between the desire for or motivation to eat certain foods and the actual pleasure derived from eating them.Ē

 

An analysis of obesity research over the last 35 years in the Feb 2005 issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that:

1) children and adolescents with major depressive disorder may be at increased risk for becoming overweight

2) persons with bipolar disorder may have elevated rates of overweight, obesity, and abdominal obesity

3) obese persons seeking weight-loss treatment may have elevated rates of depressive and bipolar disorders.

 

Further, another study in the November 2005 issue of Obesity Research found major depressive disorder was a predictor of greater fluctuations in body weight over time, independent of the use of medications that may have an affect on weight.  

 

So what does all this mean?  Perhaps, in the simplest terms, itís that the tendency for unhealthy eating habits is less about eating to feel good, and more about eating in an attempt to not feel bad.  

 


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