Why We Overeat
The Toxic Food Environment and Obesity

Summary

Making healthy eating choices may not always be easy. The convenience and affordability of unhealthy food often lure consumers to eating nutritionally empty snacks and processed meals. And research suggests our brains may be primed for craving these kinds of foods, triggering feelings of satisfaction and pleasure that healthier options may not. Based on the latest science, this Forum event examined how we can shift our food environments from toxic to healthy.

 

Presented in collaboration with The Huffington Post

Background Articles

Image Credit: iStockphoto.com/kjohansen

  • croache

    This will be a great event. I think It is important that everyone in the US both the government and parents alike should engage in discussions involving unhealthy food choices.

    –Jacob Fohtung, Aug 31, 2013 at 11:46 PM

  • Christina Roache

    QUESTION SENT BY EMAIL

    My 18 yr old son goes to the gym regularly as he is trying to “bulk up”. He eats three healthy meals a day which includes 250 g of steak, two eggs, a 100 g can of tuna, and 200 g of chicken as his main sources of protein, in addition to rice, pasta fruits and vegies. He insists that he needs to take hydrolysed protein shakes as his normal diet does not provide him with the required amount of protein to support his muscle growth. I am concerned that he might be taking an “over dose” of protein and that might have some dire consequences as the body tries to manage the excess in the system.
    Do you think we need to consume protein in excess of the recommended 0.8-1.0 g per Kg body weight, even if we are “bulking up”?

  • Christina Roache

    QUESTION SENT BY EMAIL

    1. Why do people who overeat resist the idea of understanding it or trying to do something about it, although they know it makes them unhappy to be fat?
    2. Where do you go ( web source) to find out about the label scams e.g. “0 grams of transfat” on a label actually means less than 0.5 g per serving even though the entire product could be made of transfats?
    3. A label stating the level of High Fructose corn syrup is a red light to many now that the danger is understood , but manufacturers find a way around that with synonyms that are misleading or products that are equally harmful and less well known. Where do you get the information that gives clarity and truth around the issue?
    4. MSG is often masked as MKG ( potassium instead of sodium). The impact is the same. Where does the requisite information reside?
    5. If you hear about a food scam such as “ the NY Board of health has found 70% of cinnamon sold in NY delis consist of starch, sawdust and oil of cinnamon. Phone NY DoH and no one answers; when they do they don’t know what you are talking about. Where do you get the true information?
    6. Most honey is not honey but HFCS with a bit of honey. How do you which ones are fake?
    7. Organic food can still be raised on corn which is now regarded as inflammatory. It can also be sourced from animals reared in artificially lit rooms and jam packed and with their beaks chopped off. Where do you find the finer details other than in the USDA Organics data base?

    I run a non profit and am trying to help empower people with facts and get clarity myself. I appreciate your efforts.

    Dr Ruth Rabinowitz MB BCh( South Africa)

  • Christina Roache

    QUESTION SENT BY EMAIL

    Does choosing organic foods, particularly fruits, vegetables, and meats, have a positive impact on health and well-being? Are they worth the additional cost?

    -Nicole

  • Christina Roache

    QUESTION SENT BY EMAIL

    Hello,
    In our department we have offered:
    · 8-week worksite wellness programs re: nutrition & weight management with a bilingual RD
    · Mindful Eating classes with a RD and experienced mindfulness practicioner
    · Biggest Loser (with and without cash payouts paid by participants-in singles and in teams), with weekly weight management & nutrition education (handouts, e-mails)
    · Weight Watchers (paid by participants) at our campus.

    They all seem to have the same success rate- which is, initially about a 8-10% weight loss (greater with the cash paid Biggest Loser “competitions”) but then poor compliance (i.e., weight gain) 6 months-1 year after the program.
    What does the research show-or what do you believe are- “best practices” for weight management programs in the workplace?
    Thank you!

  • Christina Roache

    QUESTION SENT BY EMAIL

    how can i ‘get off’ of potato chips? and do they affect the thyroid?

  • croache

    QUESTION SENT BY VIEWER VIA EMAIL

    how can i ‘get off’ of potato chips? and do they affect the thyroid?

  • croache

    QUESTION SENT BY VIEWER VIA EMAIL

    Hello,

    In our department we have offered:

    8-week worksite wellness programs re: nutrition & weight management with a bilingual RD

    Mindful Eating classes with a RD and experienced mindfulness practictioner

    Biggest Loser (with and without cash payouts paid by participants-in singles and in teams), with weekly weight management & nutrition education (handouts, e-mails)

    Weight Watchers (paid by participants) at our campus.

    They all seem to have the same success rate- which is, initially about a 8-10% weight loss (greater with the cash paid Biggest Loser “competitions”) but then poor compliance (i.e., weight gain) 6 months-1 year after the program.

    What does the research show-or what do you believe are- “best practices” for weight management programs in the workplace?

    Thank you!

  • croache

    QUESTION SENT BY VIEWER VIA EMAIL

    Does choosing organic foods, particularly fruits, vegetables, and
    meats, have a positive impact on health and well-being? Are they worth
    the additional cost?

    -Nicole

  • croache

    QUESTION SENT BY VIEWER VIA EMAIL

    1. Why do people who overeat resist the idea of understanding
    it or trying to do something about it, although they know it makes them
    unhappy to be fat?

    2. Where do you go ( web source) to find out about the label scams
    e.g. “0 grams of transfat” on a label actually means less than 0.5 g
    per serving even though the entire product could be made of transfats?

    3. A label stating the level of High Fructose corn syrup is a red
    light to many now that the danger is understood , but manufacturers find
    a way around that with synonyms that are misleading or products that
    are equally harmful and less well known. Where do you get the
    information that gives clarity and truth around the issue?

    4. MSG is often masked as MKG ( potassium instead of sodium). The
    impact is the same. Where does the requisite information reside?

    5. If you hear about a food scam such as “ the NY Board of health
    has found 70% of cinnamon sold in NY delis consist of starch, sawdust
    and oil of cinnamon. Phone NY DoH and no one answers; when they do they
    don’t know what you are talking about. Where do you get the true
    information?

    6. Most honey is not honey but HFCS with a bit of honey. How do you which ones are fake?

    7. Organic food can still be raised on corn which is now regarded
    as inflammatory. It can also be sourced from animals reared in
    artificially lit rooms and jam packed and with their beaks chopped off.
    Where do you find the finer details other than in the USDA Organics data
    base?

    I run a non profit and am trying to help empower people with facts and get clarity myself. I appreciate your efforts.

    Dr Ruth Rabinowitz MB BCh( South Africa)

  • croache

    QUESTION SENT BY VIEWER VIA EMAIL

    My 18 yr old son goes to the gym regularly as he is trying to “bulk
    up”. He eats three healthy meals a day which includes 250 g of steak,
    two eggs, a 100 g can of tuna, and 200 g of chicken as his main sources
    of protein, in addition to rice, pasta fruits and vegies. He insists
    that he needs to take hydrolysed protein shakes as his normal diet does
    not provide him with the required amount of protein to support his
    muscle growth. I am concerned that he might be taking an “over dose” of
    protein and that might have some dire consequences as the body tries to
    manage the excess in the system.

    Do you think we need to consume protein in excess of the recommended 0.8-1.0 g per Kg body weight, even if we are “bulking up”?

  • croache

    QUESTION SENT BY VIEWER VIA EMAIL

    Questions:

    1. Do artificial sweeteners increase hunger and if so what is the physiological pathway by which that occurs?

    2. Are fat free yogurts and low fat dairy products more or less healthy than full fat products. Is so why? If not why not?

    3. Is raised cholesterol a problem in the absence of inflammation? What are the markers one looks for to ascertain a healthy vascular profile?

    Thank you. I run an NGO that promotes healthy people on a healthy planet and appreciate your contribution to the diet debate.

    Yours sincerely,

    Dr Ruth Rabinowitz

  • Ashley

    Is there any support for Intermittent Fasting – letting our digestive system “rest” which in turn allows it to process calories in a more efficient manner when we eat?

  • Jean Pulley

    How do we get our government to regulate the brain cell killing artificial sweeteners when they allow companies like Monsanto to fund the USDA, AND to ‘hire’ Senators and other government officials to hold ‘positions’ within their company (posted recently on FaceBook) which seems like a wicked way to get around bribery and campaign donation limits ?

  • Lisa Bailey-Davis

    please provide a reference for the gap between science-public and public-policy translation

  • Kristen Lally

    QUESTION FROM LIVE CHAT

    What do the panelists think about the science underlying calorie restriction and intermittent fasting approaches? – Stephen Clark

  • Kristen Lally

    QUESTION FROM LIVE CHAT

    It is a common belief that humans gain weight when their environment promotes highly palatable food. #toxicovereating – MariaMandourari

  • Kristen Lally

    QUESTION FROM LIVE CHAT

    There is a lower prevalence of home cooking today than in 1980, when obesity levels began to rise. Is there a relationship?- Sheila Crye

  • Kristen Lally

    QUESTION FROM CHATROLL

    Seems like so many Americans are willing to learn/eat better, but often unable to find quality foods or suffer from food insecurity. Not sure if this leads to overeating, but definitely leads to incomplete/harmful eating. Agree? – Dishwithdina

  • Kristen Lally

    QUESTION FROM LIVE CHAT

    As former head of US Food &Drug, can he confirm that Monsanto is funding the dept. and ‘slanting’ their approval of Monsanto products like the brain cell killing Aspartame,Splenda type artificial sweeteners. – Jean Korver Pulley

  • Kristen Lally

    QUESTION FROM LIVE CHAT

    Should nutrition be a required part of the school curriculum? – Mike Galvin

  • Kristen Lally

    QUESTION FROM LIVE CHAT

    What role does pain play in overeating? I believe most of my overeating has been to deal with chronic pain… fats relieve nerve pain.Discrimination toward large people also makes getting accurate health information much harder. – Cheryl Thomas

  • Kristen Lally

    QUESTION FROM LIVE CHAT

    Do the panelists have any thoughts or concerns about environmental health (like health/nutrient density of the soil produce is grown in, health of the animals we eat like farm vs wild animals) having an impact on the public’s health not only now but in the future with the trajectory we’re on? – JMG

  • Kristen Lally

    QUESTION FROM LIVE CHAT

    Is a sugar tax a workable measure to reduce sugar consumption? – Cheryl Crye

  • Kristen Lally

    QUESTION FROM LIVE CHAT

    Sarah Aspinwall: I would like to hear the panelists discuss the “calorie counting” as a nearly universal measure to monitor weight/weight loss [from dietitian recommendations to iPhone apps]. As just suggested,higher fat diets do promote less weight gains (e.g.Mediterranean diet). My general question is, is teaching calorie monitoring really the best way to help promote a healthy food environment.

  • Kristen Lally

    QUESTION FROM LIVE CHAT

    Ye Starry Shen: How to translate these evidence in cognitive and psychological science to policy that actually promotes the healthy food liking and actual behavioral change?

  • Kristen Lally

    QUESTION FROM LIVE CHAT

    Jean Korver Pulley: Why are we so unwilling to think of sugar & all its forms as addictive?

  • Kristen Lally

    QUESTION SENT BY VIEWER VIA EMAIL

    Is there any evidence that food ingredients not found in nature are not processed by our body in the same way as natural ingredients? If so, how does the body react to unrecognizable (unnatural) ingredients? Example: low calorie sugar substitutes

    Thank you

  • Kristen Lally

    QUESTION SENT IN BY VIEWER VIA EMAIL

    Could all of us on the webinar start a movement called “people against sugar in food ? ” . I will run it through my organization called http://www.MamaEarth.org.za.

    Dr Ruth Rabinowitz

  • Kristen Lally

    QUESTION SENT IN BY VIEWER VIA EMAIL

    Please comment on research relating that it is a person’s response to allostatic stress loads / reactivity and brain getting ‘nutrition’ as cause for overeating behavior. Some say the waist circumference is indirect measure of how person reacts to stress?

    Alison Moy

  • Kristen Lally

    QUESTION SENT IN BY VIEWER VIA EMAIL

    is there some place I can go to get information on the time lines that you were talking about related to when children need to be exposed to knew foods to acquire a liking for that food? and the information on children should not have that food associated with any kind of distractor?

    Michelle Ecker MSW, PCSW

  • Kristen Lally

    QUESTION SENT IN BY VIEWER VIA EMAIL

    a question to forum participants:

    Obesity is also a class-based issue. Could you please elaborate on the class (race and gender as well) connections to the access to food patterns and obesity rates?

    Thank you,

    Olya Clark

  • Kristen Lally

    QUESTION SENT IN BY VIEWER VIA EMAIL

    Question:

    1. Are children better off eating low fat yogurt and kefir, or nonfat products?

    2. Are children better off eating no white flour, or less bread generally, or no sugar, or no bread with preservatives and added sugar and fructose?

    Thank you,

    Dr Ruth Rabinowitz

  • Kristen Lally

    QUESTION SENT IN BY VIEWER VIA EMAIL

    Questions:

    1. Do artificial sweeteners increase hunger and if so what is the physiological pathway by which that occurs?

    2. Are fat free yogurts and low fat dairy products more or less healthy than full fat products. Is so why? If not why not?

    3. Is raised cholesterol a problem in the absence of inflammation? What are the markers one looks for to ascertain a healthy vascular profile?

    Thank you. I run an NGO that pronotes healthy people on a healthy planet and appreciate your contribution to the diet debate.

    Yours sincerely,

    Dr Ruth Rabinowitz

  • Kristen Lally

    QUESTION SENT IN BY VIEWER VIA EMAIL

    I have a question for your experts about purchasing whole wheat bread. My kids don’t really like dense bread, such as rye, whole wheat and the like. I wonder:

    if the bread label lists “unbrominated, unbleached, enriched wheat flour” as the first ingredient, am I buying whole-grain bread?

    Many thanks.

  • Kristen Lally

    QUESTION SENT IN BY VIEWER VIA EMAIL

    Hello,

    My 18 yr old son goes to the gym regularly as he is trying to “bulk up”. He eats three healthy meals a day which includes 250 g of steak, two eggs, a 100 g can of tuna, and 200 g of chicken as his main sources of protein, in addition to rice, pasta fruits and vegies. He insists that he needs to take hydrolysed protein shakes as his normal diet does not provide him with the required amount of protein to support his muscle growth. I am concerned that he might be taking an “over dose” of protein and that might have some dire consequences as the body tries to manage the excess in the system.

    Do you think we need to consume protein in excess of the recommended 0.8-1.0 g per Kg body weight, even if we are “bulking up”?

    Regards,

    Bashir

  • Kristen Lally

    QUESTION SENT IN BY VIEWER VIA EMAIL

    Does choosing organic foods, particularly fruits, vegetables, and meats, have a positive impact on health and well-being? Are they worth the additional cost?

    -Nicole

  • Kristen Lally

    QUESTION SENT IN BY VIEWER VIA EMAIL

    Hello,

    In our department we have offered:

    · 8-week worksite wellness programs re: nutrition & weight management with a bilingual RD

    · Mindful Eating classes with a RD and experienced mindfulness practicioner

    · Biggest Loser (with and without cash payouts paid by participants-in singles and in teams), with weekly weight management & nutrition education (handouts, e-mails)

    · Weight Watchers (paid by participants) at our campus.

    They all seem to have the same success rate- which is, initially about a 8-10% weight loss (greater with the cash paid Biggest Loser “competitions”) but then poor compliance (i.e., weight gain) 6 months-1 year after the program.

    What does the research show-or what do you believe are- “best practices” for weight management programs in the workplace?

    Thank you!

  • Kristen Lally

    QUESTION SENT IN BY VIEWER VIA EMAIL

    1. Why do people who overeat resist the idea of understanding it or trying to do something about it, although they know it makes them unhappy to be fat?

    2. Where do you go ( web source) to find out about the label scams e.g. “0 grams of transfat” on a label actually means less than 0.5 g per serving even though the entire product could be made of transfats?

    3. A label stating the level of High Fructose corn syrup is a red light to many now that the danger is understood , but manufacturers find a way around that with synonyms that are misleading or products that are equally harmful and less well known. Where do you get the information that gives clarity and truth around the issue?

    4. MSG is often masked as MKG ( potassium instead of sodium). The impact is the same. Where does the requisite information reside?

    5. If you hear about a food scam such as “ the NY Board of health has found 70% of cinnamon sold in NY delis consist of starch, sawdust and oil of cinnamon. Phone NY DoH and no one answers; when they do they don’t know what you are talking about. Where do you get the true information?

    6. Most honey is not honey but HFCS with a bit of honey. How do you which ones are fake?

    7. Organic food can still be raised on corn which is now regarded as inflammatory. It can also be sourced from animals reared in artificially lit rooms and jam packed and with their beaks chopped off. Where do you find the finer details other than in the USDA Organics data base?

    I run a non profit and am trying to help empower people with facts and get clarity myself. I appreciate your efforts.

    Dr Ruth Rabinowitz MB BCh( South Africa)

  • UPOWERU

    Very good panel discussion. Thank you.