Wednesday, September 10, 2008

You Won't Believe What Makes Us Hungry

No wonder we're all fat! Thinking makes us hungry. That's the word from researchers at Laval University in Quebec City, Canada, who concluded that just using our brains for intellectual activities makes our tummies growl. The harder the intellectual task, the hungrier we get, reports

The study: Fourteen college students were divided into three groups. For 45 minutes, each of the three groups did one of the following activities:
--Relaxed in a sitting position.
--Read and summarized a text.
--Completed a series of memory, attention and vigilance tests on a computer. Blood samples to measure glucose were taken before, during and after these tasks. Once the 45 minutes was up, the students were invited to a meal and told they could eat as much as they wanted.

The results: Though the study involved a very small number of participants, the results were striking. The students who performed the more rigorous tasks taking the computer tests ate 253 more calories--or 29.4 percent more--than the couch potatoes. Those who read and summarized a text ate 203 additional calories than the students who just rested. The blood samples revealed that intellectual work causes big fluctuations in glucose levels, compared to rest periods, likely due to the stress of thinking. Lead researcher Jean-Philippe Chaput thinks our bodies react to those fluctuations by demanding food so that glucose, which is the brain's fuel, can be restored to normal levels. Glucose is found in carbohydrates and is supplied to the brain via the bloodstream. Brain cells, which can't make their own glucose, need twice as much energy as other cells in the body.

Even if you're hungry and eat because your brain is demanding it, you'll get fat if you don't balance all that food intake with exercise. "Caloric overcompensation following intellectual work, combined with the fact that we are less physically active when doing intellectual tasks, could contribute to the obesity epidemic currently observed in industrialized countries," Chaput told "This is a factor that should not be ignored, considering that more and more people hold jobs of an intellectual nature," the researcher concluded. The study was published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine.

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