The body stores energy from food in three different ways: glucose, amino acids, and lipids. Lipids are fats, and these happen to be the number one method that the body uses to store its energy from food. The body has a three-step process of metabolizing food. According to the authors, these include the cephalic, absorptive, and fasting phases. The text indicated that the cephalic phase is engaged when a person is desiring food. The absorptive phase describes the time when energy from food is being used to meet the immediate needs of the body. And the fasting phase is when a person’s body is using its stored up energy to meet those immediate needs. When someone is gaining weight consistently for a period, it is likely that their body is skipping the fasting phase altogether.
Pinel & Barnes stated that our brains are wired to eat food when it is available because of evolutionary reasons.
One major contributor to the obesity epidemic is the way our foods are produced and marketed. Manufacturers produce foods that taste great to consumers but are not healthy choices. Having junk food always available to us causes our brains to want to eat more frequently than necessary.
Another contributor to obesity is reduced activity in our society. Many people commute to work, sit at a job throughout their day for several hours, commute back home, and then sit and relax once they arrive back home for the evening. Reduced exercise and activity in our daily lives lead to reduced energy burning in our bodies.
The fact that people are eating high-calorie, low-nutrient foods and exercising less than generations before us creates a simple formula of higher energy in and lower energy out. As indicated by Taghva, due to the brain science behind hunger and eating, adjusting our calories in and calories out is not a simple fix, like it might seem.
A third contributing factor to obesity is a person’s stress levels. As we are always ruminating about our busy schedules, unrealistic expectations we place upon ourselves, trying to be high achievers in every aspect of life, it is no wonder most people today are highly stressed. Using food to cope with stress, or experiencing food addiction, leads to obesity. The same reward centers in the brain are activated when someone is addicted to food as when they’re addicted to cocaine, opioids, alcohol, and cigarettes.
What structures or habits do you have in place to ensure your children grow up with a healthy start to life?
Pinel, J. P. J., & Barnes, S. J. (2017). Biopsychology (10th ed.) [Revel version]. Retrieved from https://www.pearsonhighered.com/revel (Links to an external site.)
Taghva, A., Corrigan, J. D., & Rezai, A. R. (2012). Obesity and brain addiction circuitry: Implications for deep brain stimulation. Neurosurgery, 71(2), 224-238. doi:http://dx.doi.org.tcsedsystem.idm.oclc.org/10.1227/NEU.0b013e31825972ab