The Science of Appetite - Beating Overeating


Indulging in food is a favorite past time for many.

But considering that 2/3rds of americans, or approximately 207,337,021 are overweight?

Perhaps we enjoy food a bit much.

So why can't we stop ourselves from consuming so much fatty and sugary food?

How do we beat overeating?

When your stomach is empty it releases a hormone called ghrelin.

Ghrelin interacts in the brain with the neurotransmitter NPY and turns on the desire to eat.

Once you satisfy this desire by eating, ghrelin levels drop back down and hunger subsides.

Conversely, after eating, a different hormone, leptin, is released from the stomach and fat cells, and interferes with NPY, further turning off the desire to eat, and making you feel full.

But if this hunger regulation system is in place, why can't we say no to that piece of cake, or second helping of chips?

Many food phycologists believe that in the past, energy-rich foods such as those with lots of fat and sugar, were hard to come by.

As hunter-gatherers, the human body needed to take advantage of these meals for survival, and as a result, they became extremely desirable.

But in today's world, we can get a high fat and sugary meal on any corner at any hour.

The problem is, the instinct and desire still remains.

And so we struggle to stop eating these meals.

Recently, it's been discovered that the continual intake of fat and sugar overrides the regulatory system of ghrelin and leptin.

The signalling pathway is insufficient to control our new diet, and so our initial evolutionary desire now plagues our ability to choose wisely and eat healthy.

It's a self-perpetuating problem.

The more unhealthy food you eat, the more you desire food.

Got a burning question you want answered?

Ask it in the comments, or on Facebook and Twitter.

And subscribe for more weekly science videos!