Chapter 12

Topics: Nutrition, Blood sugar, Insulin Pages: 68 (20153 words) Published: August 23, 2013

Hunger, Eating, and Health
Why Do Many People Eat Too Much?

12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4

Digestion, Energy Storage, and Energy Utilization Theories of Hunger and Eating: Set Points versus Positive Incentives Factors That Determine What, When, and How Much We Eat Physiological Research on Hunger and Satiety

12.5 12.6 12.7

Body Weight Regulation: Set Points versus Settling Points Human Obesity: Causes, Mechanisms, and Treatments Anorexia and Bulimia Nervosa ISBN 0-558-78571-9

Biopsychology, Eighth Edition, by John P.J. Pinel. Published by Allyn & Bacon. Copyright © 2011 by Pearson Education, Inc.

12.1 ■ Digestion, Energy Storage, and Energy Utilization


ISBN 0-558-78571-9

ating is a behavior that is of interest to virtually everyone. We all do it, and most of us derive great pleasure from it. But for many of us, it becomes a source of serious personal and health problems. Most eating-related health problems in industrialized nations are associated with eating too much—the average American consumes 3,800 calories per day, about twice the average daily requirement (see Kopelman, 2000). For example, it is estimated that Watch 65% of the adult U.S. popuYou Are What You Eat lation is either overweight or clinically obese, qualifying this problem for epidemic status (see Abelson & Kennedy, 2004; Arnold, 2009). The resulting financial and personal costs are huge. Each year in the United States, about $100 billion is spent treating obesity-related disorders (see Olshansky et al., 2005). Moreover, each year, an estimated 300,000 U.S. citizens die from disorders caused by their excessive eating (e.g., diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, and some cancers). Although the United States is the trend-setter when it comes to overeating and obesity, many other countries are not far behind (Sofsian, 2007). Ironically, as overeating and obesity have reached epidemic proportions, there has been a related increase in disorders associated with eating too little (see Polivy & Herman, 2002). For example, almost 3% of American adolescents currently suffer from anorexia or bulimia, which can be life-threatening in extreme cases. The massive increases in obesity and other eatingrelated disorders that have occurred over the last few decades in many countries stand in direct opposition to most people’s thinking about hunger and eating. Many people—and I assume that this includes you—believe that hunger and eating are normally triggered when the body’s energy resources fall Watch below a prescribed optimal Thinking about Hunger level, or set point. They preciate that many factors influence hunger and eating, but they assume that the hunger and eating system has evolved to supply the body with just the right amount of energy. This chapter explores the incompatibility of the setpoint assumption with the current Thinking Creatively epidemic of eating disorders. If we all have hunger and eating systems whose primary function is to maintain energy resources at optimal levels, then eating disorders should be rare. The fact that they are so prevalent suggests that hunger and eating are regulated in some other way. This chapter will repeatedly challenge you to think in new ways about issues that impact your health and longevity and will provide new insights of great personal relevance—I guarantee it. Before you move on to the body of the chapter, I would like you to pause to consider a case study. What would a severely amnesic patient do if offered a meal


shortly after finishing one? If his hunger and eating were controlled by energy set points, he would refuse the second meal. Did he?

The Case of the Man Who Forgot Not to Eat
R.H. was a 48-year-old male whose progress in graduate school was interrupted by the development of severe amnesia for long-term explicit memory. His Clinical amnesia was similar in pattern and Implications severity to that of H.M., whom you met in...
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