Sunday, February 17, 2008

But... they're French. So it doesn't count

One of those age-old questions came up again as a result of a Cornell University study into obesity.
It's the French paradox redux: Why don't the French get as fat as Americans, considering all the baguettes, wine, cheese, pate and pastries they eat?

Because they use internal cues -- such as no longer feeling hungry -- to stop eating, reports a new Cornell study. Americans, on the other hand, tend to use external cues -- such as whether their plate is clean, they have run out of their beverage or the TV show they're watching is over.

It's not really a mystery. When I gain weight I know perfectly well why it happened. I consumed more calories than I burned in a measured period of time. Why I would actually do that, given that I know the outcome, is a little more difficult to discern.

Cornell University's Food and Brand Lab has a whole range of studies on food including a section on why we unknowingly overeat which should serve to knock your socks off. All the studies are interesting but here's one item which might shock you: larger packaging (as in the jumbo-size) causes you to eat more of something in a single sitting.

Back to the French, it only takes a week of living in a society where they eat rich foods and drink gallons of wine to understand how they manage to do it without turning into beach balls with fingers and toes. A five course meal is eaten slowly and the amount on the plate tells the whole story.

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