New research suggests that a woman’s brain may unconsciously have a tougher time resisting favorite foods compared to men. This study was conducted to examine why some people don’t stop eating after internal cues tell them that they are full. This is a problem for today’s society because chronic overeating leads to obesity, which is sweeping across our nation to an alarming high.
One of the researchers, Dr. Gene Jack Wang – senior scientist at Brookhaven National Laboratory and professor of psychiatry at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, believes this helps place another piece to the puzzle in understanding behaviors and diet. Dr. Wang speculates that “women may have more trouble saying no to food because they sometimes have to eat for two.” He continues by saying that maybe evolution contributes to women having difficulty saying no because “of their important mission to have a baby.” For me, I kind of get where he’s coming from, but I don’t think he can speak for every woman by saying “it’s our important mission to have a baby.” I think it would have been better wording had he said something along the lines of our body is biologically apt to provide for two. Honestly, the more I think about this the weirder it becomes for me.
The researchers asked 13 women and 10 men about their favorite foods, in which a variety of dishes were listed, then had the participants fast for 20 hours. After the fast, the researchers presented the subjects with their favorite foods, but they were only allowed to smell and sample the food (not consume a serving of it). While doing this the participants were linked to PET scans which examined their brain activity. The researchers then asked the participants to try to reduce/inhibit their desire to want to eat the food.
The researchers found that certain areas of the brain became more active in both the men and women when they were tempted with food, in fact, the areas that lit up control our emotions (such as motivation). Both the men and women succeeded in making themselves feel less hungry, but the brain scan suggested that the women’s brains were still acting as if they were hungry. The researchers interpreted this by saying that the women may have thought they were less hungry, but their brains didn’t seem to be entirely on board.
This study, although with many flaws and would need to be conducted numerous times over to get similar results, does provide us with a different outlook on overeating. The best way to overcome overeating is to properly train yourself to listen to your body (don’t ignore internal cues), eat slowly, and realize that you don’t need to clean your plate!