Monday, October 30, 2006


Scientists have discovered why some people's brains are particularly vulnerable to food advertising and product packaging, putting them at risk of overeating and becoming overweight. The research provides fresh insight into one of the neurobiological factors underlying obesity by showing how some people are more attracted to the prospect of being rewarded with tasty food than others. The findings from a group of scientists at the Medical Research Council's Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit in Cambridge led by Andy Calder and Andrew Lawrence are published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Different people have higher or lower reward sensitivity, a personality trait that reflects a general desire to pursue rewarding or pleasurable experiences. The research shows that individuals with higher reward sensitivity, show increased activity in the parts of the brain implicated in motivation or reward when simply looking at pictures of appetizing food.

Previous research has shown that people with high reward sensitivity have stronger food cravings and are more likely to be overweight, but until now, the biological basis of this effect was unknown. This new research identifies how this relationship operates in the human brain, resulting in greater susceptibility to food advertising.

The study used the latest technology in brain imaging. The researchers showed people pictures of highly appetizing foods (e.g. chocolate cakes), bland foods (e.g. broccoli), and disgusting foods (e.g. rotten meat) while measuring brain activity using an fMRI scanner. After testing, the study participants completed a questionnaire that assessed their general desire to pursue rewarding items or goals. The results showed that the participant's scores on the reward sensitivity questionnaire predicted the extent to which the appetizing food images activated their brain's reward network.

"Previous studies in this area have assumed that brain activation patterns are similar in all healthy individuals. But the new findings demonstrate that even in healthy individuals some peoples' brain reward centers are more sensitive to appetizing food cues. This helps explain why some individuals are more vulnerable to developing certain disorders like binge-eating," said Dr John Beaver, lead author of the study. "This is particularly pertinent in understanding the rapidly increasing prevalence of obesity, as people are constantly bombarded with images of appetizing food items in order to promote food intake through television advertising, vending machines, or product packaging."

According to Dr Beaver the findings may also have broader implications for understanding vulnerability to multiple forms of addiction and compulsive behaviors.

"Research demonstrates that an individual's reward sensitivity may also relate to their vulnerability to substance abuse, and the brain network we have identified is hyper-responsive to drug cues in addicts," he said.


Obesity = Can't Work = Social Security Payments!

Well, this is great. Now you can make yourself too fat to work, and you get Social Security, as if it is a disability. Kind of like a few years when back parents made their children take Ritalin or other such drug, or just claimed the kids are hyper-active and they get all sorts of social welfare benefits. In this case, they did not have to even really be fat, just claimed it. No wonder Social Security is running out of money. The good news is that they got caught. How many of you knew you could get money for being fat, or just claiming it? Since when did this become an entitlement? This is just one example of the abuse of the system. I won't even mention the massive abuses by illegal aliens, while local, state and Federal governments will do nothing to stop.

Years ago President Carter wanted to create a new budget system call "Zero Based Budgeting" The purpose was that each year every dollar had to be proved to be needed. The current system starts with last years appropriation and then adds a percentage to it, whether it is needed or not, or whether the money was wasted this year. Audits takes years to do and fraud, waste and corruption are found years after the perpetrators are gone. In this case, Carter was right. Welfare programs, Social Security need constant monitoring to see if the procedures and protocols are right. Having a medical condition that could last over one year is so broad that most anyone with high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, etc could qualify. Social Security, created as a simple retirement program (not to pay for all retirement needs) has made Americans lazy about saving for old age and creative in ways to sucker the system. Those truly in need get harmed and the system is burdened by esoteric rules, regulations and interpretations.

Just as the tax system needs a complete overhaul and make it simplistic, so should Social Security. Did you know that there are attorneys that specialize in getting you the most Social Security benefits possible-this is a speciality? Why is the system so complicated that you need attorneys and accountants? Have you ever been to the headquarters of Social Security, in Baltimore? At one point in my life I was a lobbyist, working to get Social Security to cover some dental procedures. So I went to Baltimore on several occasions. The "campus" is at least four times the size of Dodger Stadium and all of the parking-it is massive. What do you think? Should we keep our system that allows "obesity", true or not, receive benefits? Is government out of control?



Just some problems with the "Obesity" war:

1). It tries to impose behavior change on everybody -- when most of those targeted are not obese and hence have no reason to change their behaviour. It is a form of punishing the innocent and the guilty alike. (It is also typical of Leftist thinking: Scorning the individual and capable of dealing with large groups only).

2). The longevity research all leads to the conclusion that it is people of MIDDLING weight who live longest -- not slim people. So the "epidemic" of obesity is in fact largely an "epidemic" of living longer.

3). It is total calorie intake that makes you fat -- not where you get your calories. Policies that attack only the source of the calories (e.g. "junk food") without addressing total calorie intake are hence pissing into the wind. People involuntarily deprived of their preferred calorie intake from one source are highly likely to seek and find their calories elsewhere.

4). So-called junk food is perfectly nutritious. A big Mac meal comprises meat, bread, salad and potatoes -- which is a mainstream Western diet. If that is bad then we are all in big trouble.

5). Food warriors demonize salt and fat. But we need a daily salt intake to counter salt-loss through perspiration and the research shows that people on salt-restricted diets die SOONER. And Eskimos eat huge amounts of fat with no apparent ill-effects. And the average home-cooked roast dinner has LOTS of fat. Will we ban roast dinners?

6). The foods restricted are often no more calorific than those permitted -- such as milk and fruit-juice drinks.

7). Tendency to weight is mostly genetic and is therefore not readily susceptible to voluntary behaviour change.

8). And when are we going to ban cheese? Cheese is a concentrated calorie bomb and has lots of that wicked animal fat in it too. Wouldn't we all be better off without it? And what about butter? It is just about pure fat. Surely it should be treated as contraband in kids' lunchboxes! [/sarcasm].


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