It is possible to be overweight and malnourished at the same time. In most countries battle with the bulge is a common phenomenon. Food creates a lot of fun in the mouth, and at the same time, creates a lot of problems for our body. Many action plans have been suggested and that include imposing a “fat tax” on caloric snacks; improving health education; regulating food and beverage advertising, etc. What should we do to deal with this problems?
Our brains seem hungrier than our stomach. We know, we should eat less and exercise more. Still, we don’t do it. Why do our plans and resolutions fail? The fault lies in our heads. The urge to eat too much is wired into our brains. Since obesity is related to brain function (for example, smell, taste and appearance of food influences hunger), one suggestion is to treat obesity as a psychological/psychiatric disorder.
The habit of overeating evolved in us because we were not sure of our next meal. Our brain’s prime directive thus has been to equip the body to meet this challenge. A consequence of this is that we developed the obese prone ‘default eat’ system. We now need remedial measures to counter the effects of our default eat system. Taming obesity probably lies in taming a hungry brain. Dieting in the tempting environment is the most difficult form of self-control.
Quick-fix weight loss solutions are unreliable. Dieting makes the dieter irritable, and there are reasons for that. Dieters have to overcome several hurdles. There are hurdles of breakfast, lunch, in-between snacks. Each hurdle means one additional resistance to overcome, and as the day progresses there is a corresponding increase in resistance. Each act of overcoming the resistance lowers the dieter’s willpower. As one ‘Fat Girl’ puts it in her memoir: “Some people daydream heroic deeds or sex scenes or tropical vacations. I daydream crab legs dipped in hot butter.” We are trapped in a nutritional Catch-22 situation. “In order not to eat, a dieter needs willpower, and in order to have willpower, a dieter needs to eat”.