Saturday, February 6, 2010

Leaving Leftovers

Satiety cues were brought up during my most recent pediatric nutrition class. A fellow student was presenting and mentioned that babies have satiety cues, but those cues disappear along with infancy. Always the skeptic, I had to refrain from raising my hand to interject. Instead, I let it slide and then researched it at home. Sure enough, parents and the food industry are to blame.

Humans were born with the innate ability to determine when they were full and then stop eating, regardless of what was on their plate. In Americans, this ability disappears during early childhood. Other cultures, such as the French, do not lose this ability. Clinical trials reveal that children who were rewarded for cleaning their plates, increased their food intake (eating more than they needed). Conversely, those who were taught to stop eating when the hunger subsided had significantly less food intake.1 We’ve taught our children to become obese. The food industry takes it a step further with their oversized plates and king sized candy bars.

I’ve never understood the obsession with “cleaning your plate.” I hate wasting food, but I love the proverb, “it’s better to let it go to waste, than to your waist.” If you stuff yourself beyond capacity, you are doing harm. It’s going to become waste either way, but one of those paths will lead to more harm than good. The dictionary contains two important words: tupperware and leftovers.

On that plump note, I was impressed with last week’s State of the Union address. Michelle Obama’s childhood obesity initiative is actually what caught my attention. Whatever your political views may be, you cannot deny that this is a problem in need of a solution. Once and for all.

See you at the Container Store.

1. Ello-Martin et al. The influence of food portion size and energy density on energy intake: implications for weight management. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2005. 82 (1): 236S.

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