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    09 Sep '14 09:475 edits
    Why so many of us (like myself) have no difficultly whatsoever effortlessly staying slim while so many of us (like my mother ) seem to find it so hard to avoid overeating and becoming obese despite endless attempts at dieting with diets that never seem to work?

    According to this new study, it all about differences in brain chemistry:

    http://medicalxpress.com/news/2014-09-habits-body-fat-differences-brain.html

    So, if I am reading this right, I am slim because my brain chemistry makes me more rewarded by the food I eat and thus feel rewarded enough with less food eaten and thus more easily satisfied with the quantity of food I eat thus I don't naturally overeat while my mother is obese because her brain chemistry makes here less rewarded by the food she eats and she psychologically compensates by making that up with greater volume of food making her naturally overeat.
  2. Cape Town
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    09 Sep '14 09:52
    Its not quite that simple. The reward effect can change over time as a result of what you eat and how much you eat and what your current weight is.
    But certainly how much we eat is largely a function of how much our brain tells us to eat, and it can be very hard to go against the brains desires.

    One very important factor not to overlook, is that certain foods are somewhat addictive in that if you eat them, it makes you crave more. I find it takes about a week for some of these addictions to wear off. It also helps to make the foods not readily available.
  3. Joined
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    09 Sep '14 10:063 edits
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    Its not quite that simple. The reward effect can change over time as a result of what you eat and how much you eat and what your current weight is.
    But certainly how much we eat is largely a function of how much our brain tells us to eat, and it can be very hard to go against the brains desires.

    One very important factor not to overlook, is that cert ...[text shortened]... for some of these addictions to wear off. It also helps to make the foods not readily available.
    yes, and research has shown that the most addictive foods are those that combine high amounts of sugar with high amounts of fat. Thus chocolate and ice cream are particularly addictive while boiled sweets and pure fats are less addictive because they don't have high amounts of both.
  4. Standard memberDeepThought
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    09 Sep '14 19:48
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    Its not quite that simple. The reward effect can change over time as a result of what you eat and how much you eat and what your current weight is.
    But certainly how much we eat is largely a function of how much our brain tells us to eat, and it can be very hard to go against the brains desires.

    One very important factor not to overlook, is that cert ...[text shortened]... for some of these addictions to wear off. It also helps to make the foods not readily available.
    I think your last sentence is the key to this. We evolved in a situation where food was eaten when it was available because there might be none tomorrow. Our bodies are good at coping with too little but bad at coping with too much. We live in a society where food security is so good we can waste it and still eat too much. The basic cause of obesity is competition within the food industry driving them to make their products as desirable as possible, since our brains are set up to think sugar and fat are good they are caused to provide us what is worst for us.
  5. Joined
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    09 Sep '14 20:134 edits
    Originally posted by DeepThought
    I think your last sentence is the key to this. We evolved in a situation where food was eaten when it was available because there might be none tomorrow. Our bodies are good at coping with too little but bad at coping with too much. We live in a society where food security is so good we can waste it and still eat too much. The basic cause of obesity ...[text shortened]... s are set up to think sugar and fat are good they are caused to provide us what is worst for us.
    All perfectly true. But that doesn't explain why many of us (such as myself) don't overeat when exposed to food adds and temptation of junk food in front of our face while so many other respond in the opposite way and so readily become obese. Why the massive difference? Rightly or wrongly, my personal impression is that most people are one of the two extremes and not so many are in the middle.
  6. Cape Town
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    10 Sep '14 06:32
    Originally posted by humy
    All perfectly true. But that doesn't explain why many of us (such as myself) don't overeat when exposed to food adds and temptation of junk food in front of our face while so many other respond in the opposite way and so readily become obese. Why the massive difference? Rightly or wrongly, my personal impression is that most people are one of the two extremes and not so many are in the middle.
    I have to point out that there is an 'obesity epidemic' in the US and some other first world nations. This cannot be explained as an increase of people with certain brain chemistry. Clearly there are other factors that are present in the US but not countries that have not experienced this epidemic.
    I put on a significant amount of weight when I first moved to South Africa, simply because I could now afford unhealthy foods. I managed to stop the trend when my weight started to bother me, but have not really lost much of the weight since then.
    I suspect also that if you did eat more junk food for a while you would find it difficult to go back to the way you are now.
    I have heard that our bodies know what weight we are now, and try to maintain that. We do not easily loose weight because our body 'remembers' its weight for quite some time, so the moment we stop dieting we automatically go back to our last maximum weight. Its a sort of upward ratchet whereby its easy to gain weight but not easy to take it off.
    I think the question of who gets fat and who doesn't is complicated and includes quite a number of factors.
  7. Joined
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    10 Sep '14 09:431 edit
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    I have to point out that there is an 'obesity epidemic' in the US and some other first world nations. This cannot be explained as an increase of people with certain brain chemistry. Clearly there are other factors that are present in the US but not countries that have not experienced this epidemic.
    I put on a significant amount of weight when I first mov ...[text shortened]... question of who gets fat and who doesn't is complicated and includes quite a number of factors.
    I have to point out that there is an 'obesity epidemic' in the US and some other first world nations. This cannot be explained as an increase of people with certain brain chemistry

    Of course! I know the causes of obesity is not all brain chemistry and much of it is environmental/social/cultural/economic. But note that, even in the US, although there are many that are abase, there are also many that are still slim despite their culture that encourages overeating. And yet often the slim ones are exposed to exactly the same food adds, culture etc as the obese ones. So it still makes sense that brain chemistry is part of the cause of the huge differences between individuals although there are also huge social, cultural and environmental influences.
    I put on a significant amount of weight when I first moved to South Africa, simply because I could now afford unhealthy foods. I managed to stop the trend when my weight started to bother me, but have not really lost much of the weight since then.

    There was a time when most of the food I ate was junk food (far too high in sugar and fat mainly ) and yet I never ever have eaten so much of it as to get overweight. I have never once been over 57kg in mass in my life and about a week ago I weighed in at exactly 57kg (with a margin of error of measurement) despite eating no junk food but have since lost a kg. It seems different people respond differently when exposed to junk food.
    My brother is no so lucky and naturally tends to put on too much weight like you do if he isn't careful.
    Its a sort of upward ratchet

    same with my brother. For me, there strangely doesn't seem to be any correlation between what proportion of food I eat is high-sugar or high-fat and my weight although I have long stopped eating junk food because I got concerned that surely it still must be damaging my health somehow even if it doesn't make me obese! I find it hard to imagine how all that huge amount of sugar I used to eat could not do me any harm!
  8. Account suspended
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    10 Sep '14 09:52
    Originally posted by humy
    Why so many of us (like myself) have no difficultly whatsoever effortlessly staying slim while so many of us (like my mother ) seem to find it so hard to avoid overeating and becoming obese despite endless attempts at dieting with diets that never seem to work?

    According to this new study, it all about differences in brain chemistry:

    http://medicalxpress. ...[text shortened]... ogically compensates by making that up with greater volume of food making her naturally overeat.
    As an existentialist I reject the premise that some genetic predisposition is more likely to cause obesity in those who feel 'less rewarded' with food. We are responsible for our own actions.
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    10 Sep '14 10:403 edits
    Originally posted by robbie carrobie
    As an existentialist I reject the premise that some genetic predisposition is more likely to cause obesity in those who feel 'less rewarded' with food. We are responsible for our own actions.
    whether we are responsible for our own actions, our most likely actions are still biased or influenced by certain generic traits. The current scientific evidence clearly indicates this and this study indicates that brain chemistry is causally linked to obesity. This doesn't logically imply that obese people are not responsible for their own action of overeating; only that they find it physiologically harder to avoid overeating than many slim people. There is no contradiction between the two assertions that our behavior is influenced by our genes and we are responsible for our own actions and there is no reason to think that two should be mutually exclusive.

    Incidentally, that study in the OP link doesn't directly link our genes to obesity, only brain chemistry. Although it is natural (and reasonable I think ) to assume that that difference in brain chemistry is mainly caused by genes, the possibility that that difference in brain chemistry is actually mainly caused by environment and past life experience hasn't been entirely ruled out although somehow I intuitively think the latter unlikely.
  10. Account suspended
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    10 Sep '14 12:014 edits
    Originally posted by humy
    whether we are responsible for our own actions, our most likely actions are still biased or influenced by certain generic traits. The current scientific evidence clearly indicates this and this study indicates that brain chemistry is causally linked to obesity. This doesn't logically imply that obese people are not responsible for their own action of overeating ...[text shortened]... erience hasn't been entirely ruled out although somehow I intuitively think the latter unlikely.
    Bias and even a predisposition is NOT a causation as you correctly assert, the article while not making any truth claims, does however intimate thats its plausible that people have a 'less rewarding', experience with food which may lead to being more susceptible to obesity. If its not explicitly stated its certainly implied. This is misleading and dangerous and infact is the same kind of 'science', that was proffered to initiate a whole range of changes in legislation governing so called 'gay rights', for example in Scotland it was made possible to promote gayness in schools and colleges (the lifting of section 28) and was based on nothing more than conflicting scientific claims.

    Existentialism naturally rejects claims of genetics as being a defining influence arguing that we as free moral agents are responsible for our own actions, irrespective of any implied genetic predisposition or otherwise and its these actions themselves which define a person.
  11. Germany
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    10 Sep '14 15:41
    You appear to misunderstand existentialism.
  12. Cape Town
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    10 Sep '14 15:44
    Originally posted by humy
    Although it is natural (and reasonable I think ) to assume that that difference in brain chemistry is mainly caused by genes,.....
    No, it is not. It is well known that many other brain attributes, including those involving chemistry, are just as much a product of the environment as they are of the genes. There is no good reason to assume genetics is the main influence in this instance.
  13. Cape Town
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    10 Sep '14 15:46
    Originally posted by robbie carrobie
    Bias and even a predisposition is NOT a causation ....
    ... actually it is. That is what the words mean. Partial causation, granted, but still causation.
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    10 Sep '14 16:46
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    No, it is not. It is well known that many other brain attributes, including those involving chemistry, are just as much a product of the environment as they are of the genes. There is no good reason to assume genetics is the main influence in this instance.
    I think your intuition is rather different from mine.
  15. Joined
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    10 Sep '14 17:087 edits
    Originally posted by robbie carrobie
    Bias and even a predisposition is NOT a causation as you correctly assert, the article while not making any truth claims, does however intimate thats its plausible that people have a 'less rewarding', experience with food which may lead to being more susceptible to obesity. If its not explicitly stated its certainly implied. This is misleading and ...[text shortened]... lied genetic predisposition or otherwise and its these actions themselves which define a person.
    ...people have a 'less rewarding', experience with food which may lead to being more susceptible to obesity (according to the link )


    Yes, that is very clearly implied by the link.

    This is misleading

    why misleading? If some people being more predisposed to being obese is the truth, its not misleading to explain why.
    and dangerous

    why dangerous? What do you think could realistically go wrong by stating what the link said?
    and in fact is the same kind of 'science', that was proffered to initiate a whole range of changes in legislation governing so called 'gay rights', for example in Scotland it was made possible to promote gayness in schools and colleges (the lifting of section 28) and was based on nothing more than conflicting scientific claims.


    What the hell has one got to do with the other? Exactly how do they relate?
    The first isn't a 'rights' issue while the second is. The first won't realistically lead to likely changes in the law let alone changes in the law for schools while the second one did.
    And what is this “promote gayness”? LOL. I have never seen or heard of someone saying we should all be gay!
    Existentialism naturally rejects claims of genetics as being a defining influence

    Not particularly. I have certainly not heard of any existentialist that actually says he believes that! You can be an existentialist by assuming that, ultimately, each individual is always morally responsible for their own choices, but, without any logical contradiction and like I assume most existentialists would, still accept that some genes have a limited effect on psychology and therefore have some influence on the kind of choices we make albeit without making the choices we do make inevitable. After all, it is an undisputed scientific fact that many genes are essential for either brain development or brain function so it would seem to be pretty absurd that at least some of those genes or mutations or variants of those genes couldn't possibly have any effect on our psychology and therefore on which choices we are most likely to make!

    arguing that we as free moral agents are responsible for our own actions irrespective of any implied genetic predisposition or otherwise

    Why would saying that some genes make people more likely to choose to overeat and become obese contradict that? Why would person with such predisposition logically mean he is not morally responsible for his actions? It doesn't. He still makes a conscious choice regardless of any unconscious bias put on that choice so merely having a predisposition or bias to choose one thing rather than another doesn't logically contradict existentialism. You clearly have misunderstood what existentialism actually says.

    Incidentally, I wouldn't call myself an existentialist. Although I think most of us are generally morally responsible for our actions most of the time, there are plenty of exceptions. An extreme exception would be where a person has a naturally occurring chemical imbalance in the brain (perhaps via schizophrenia ) that causes him to go completely insane and kills someone because, say, he hallucinated that other person as being a terrifying monster -would he be morally responsible for his actions? I would call that diminished responsibility (legal term ) .
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