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I am also enrolled in an AnthroBio class that focuses on the evolution of nutrition. Many aspects of the class are very similar to our UC 254 class. Yesterday my GSI for my AnthroBio class sent along a really interesting article published by the NYTimes last February called “The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food.”

In 1999, the CEOs of America’s largest food companies came together to discuss the emerging obesity epidemic and what they could do about it. The companies included Nestle, Kraft, Nabisco, General Mills, Proctor & Gamble, Coca-Cola, and Mars. These companies specifically have been primarily blamed for nearly half of American’s being overweight and some rises (though we are seeing a decline today) in childhood obesity.

In my AnthroBio class I learned that childhood obesity is far more concerning than it is often portrayed. Some serious health consequences are that children are at an enormous risk for developing Type 2 Diabetes. These consequences include having the chronic illness for a much longer time, thus the long-term consequences could be different than what we know about diabetes in adults. Moreover, much of the medication is designed to combat Type 2 Diabetes in adults and only fairly new research is being conducted for children.

As this article suggests, one of the biggest factors of childhood obesity is its relationship to junk food. One interesting part of this article is it explains the addictive qualities junk foods have. Think about your favorite unhealthy or junk food item. Is it chewy, gummy, moist, grainy, juicy, or very dry filled with sweets or salts? These are textures and tastes that the mouth really enjoys eating and chewing, which is one aspect that keeps people resorting to junk food.

Another aspect is that foods like popcorn and Cheetos have “vanishing caloric density.” This means that they are designed to reduce the perception of quantity consumed due to the airiness of the food. Cheetos, for example, sort of melt away in your mouth and are not very dense. Frequently this hides the true amount people are eating and therefore blinds consumers of how much they are eating.

This is a very interesting article and if you want to read more about it, go here: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/24/magazine/the-extraordinary-science-of-junk-food.html?_r=1&


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