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Overeating is harder to control than people may think

Category: General Health

Overeating is a major problem in the U.S., contributing to a number of serious public health issues. Eating large portions of unhealthy foods can increase a person's risk of high cholesterol and blood pressure, which is why people who have a tendency to binge eat should regularly get blood tests to keep tabs on their cardiovascular health. Recently, researchers from the University of New South Wales found just how difficult eating in moderation may be for some people.

According to the scientists, even when being told about the dangers of eating too much, people will still eat large portions if they are placed before them. Furthermore, learning to engage in mindful eating also did not seem to keep people from eating too much when a large portion was placed in front of them.

Portions are the key
To come to their conclusions, researchers examined more than 95 women. They were put into groups, one of which received education regarding how mood, advertising, portion size, and social and cultural factors can lead to overeating. They were also asked to write about how they believed these influences had affected how they ate in the past. The other group was taught how to eat mindfully, meaning they focused on taste and whether they were still hungry, rather than simply eating because it was there.

Then, half of the women were served a 350-gram portion of macaroni pasta with tomato sauce for lunch, while the others received a 600-gram portion. They found that regardless of what they had earned, the women in the larger portion groups still ate substantially more than the other women.

"Neither of these brief exercises reduced the effects of portion size. Overall, participants in the larger portion group consumed about a third more pasta - 69 grams - than those in the smaller portion group. If no effective approaches are found, it may be necessary to develop policy-related changes to provide a healthier food environment for people," said researcher Lenny Vartanian, Ph.D.

Overeating in the U.S.
According to a 2009 article published in Reuters, research has found that in the U.S., the obesity epidemic is mostly caused by overeating, not a decrease in physical activity. An estimated two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese, which is why it's so important to get the problem of overeating under control.

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