Hunger and Pleasure Byways, Two Roads That Diverge at Obesity

Patient Expert

Hunger and Pleasure Byways, Two Roads That Diverge at Obesity

There are usually two ways to do pretty much anything. There is the traditional right way and wrong way, as in, "anything worth doing is worth doing right." I suppose that goes for anything that is not worth doing, as well. Then there is the always popular, "My way or the highway," ultimatum. The root of this is, "Give me what I want or I'll hold my breath until I turn blue," ultimatum.

But all home-spun wisdoms aside, there are also two ways to obesity. One way is overeating for pleasure, the other is overeating for hunger. These two behaviors may be due in part to what's called the set point theory.

[Eat Right to Avoid Belly Fat** _] he Set Point Theory**

Your set point is a weight range where your body is programmed to perform at its best. Set points are different for each of us, and your body will fight to maintain its set point. This is a large part of the reason why losing weight is difficult: your body is biologically and genetically determined to weigh within a certain range.

When you diet and begin to lose weight, your body begins a fight to retain natural weight. Both your appetite and metabolism adjust in an effort to regain the set point. To do this, your metabolism might slow to try and conserve energy, and you may start to sleep more.

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On the other hand, if you go above the set point, your body may increase metabolism and raise its temperature to try and burn off calories.

Overeating for Hunger

Overeating for hunger, or metabolic obesity, is when a person has a higher set point that the body will defend if weight is lost. An elevated set point is inherited and determined by genetics. However, this doesn't explain why obesity has tripled in the last decades although the populations genetic makeup has not.

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What has been found in lab rats is that when they are overfed with high caloric foods for a significant period of time, about 50 percent of the time, the body will reset at a higher rate that it will defend from then on.

Overeating for PleasureEating for pleasure, or** hedonic obesity**, is regulated by emotions, desires and rewards. People can overeat for pleasure simply because food is more rewarding for them, or because they need more food to get the same pleasure that the average person gets while eating less food. Whichever it is, people who overeat for pleasure eat above their metabolic needs, and the set point doesn't matter.

What each of these overeating practices has in common is consumption of processed foods. The poor standard of these sweet, salty, fatty foods affects metabolism and the internal regulation that determines body weight. The gateway to obesity is both the overeating for hunger and overeating for pleasure tracks, and processed foods is the binding denominator.

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