Friday, April 26, 2013

Potato Chip News: Hedonic Hyperphagia aka Can't-Eat-Just-One Syndrome

NEW ORLEANS, April 11, 2013 —The scientific secrets underpinning that awful reality about potato chips — eat one and you're apt to scarf 'em all down — began coming out of the bag today in research presented at the 245th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society...
Tobias Hoch, Ph.D., who conducted the study, said the results shed light on the causes of a condition called "hedonic hyperphagia" that plagues hundreds of millions of people around the world.
"That's the scientific term for 'eating to excess for pleasure, rather than hunger,'" Hoch said. "It's recreational over-eating that may occur in almost everyone at some time in life. And the chronic form is a key factor in the epidemic of overweight and obesity that here in the United States threatens health problems for two out of every three people."
Hoch and his colleagues, delving deeper into the inner workings of hedonic hyperphagia, have found the root causes of the condition. His team, from FAU Erlangen-Nuremberg, in Erlangen, Germany, used lab rats to get to the bottom of the “can’t eat just one” conundrum. For the study, the rats in one group were allowed to feast on potato chips, while a second group was fed rat chow, and a third was given a mixture of fat and carbs.
While each group was offered similar amounts of each food type, the researchers found that those in the chip group more actively pursued their food, which can be explained partly by the high energy content of the snack. Hoch noted that the chip group was also more active after its feast than the other two groups.
Although the carbs and fats group got a source of high energy, the rats still pursued the chips most actively; the chow group was least active in its pursuit of a meal. Hoch noted that this provided further evidence that the chips contain some other ingredient that sparked interest in the rats.
...Hoch surmised that since chips, as well as other foods, affect the reward center in the brain: “In some cases maybe the reward signal from the food is not strong enough to overrule the individual taste,” he added, suggesting that some people may just simply have stronger willpower than others in not choosing to eat chips by the bagful.
What an interesting study....wait! What did they find out? They gave a name to the problem, they tested it on rats, and now (if you read the whole press release) they're going to use the data to try and develop a drug to counter hedonic hyperphagia. Ha! A drug? C'mon.
What I read in this study is that they "discovered" that rats prefer chips over regular chow or a fat-carb mixture. Duh. They also "discovered" that the potato chip rats more actively pursued their food. Duh. They concluded that if you have willpower you will probably not eat chips or overeat. Duh!
I think the only thing I learned from this study is that they suspect that potato chips might contain a substance that causes eaters to lose a bit of control, but what is that substance?
Let me know if I'm missing something important.

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