This article was originally posted on June 10, 2011
To further understand the effects of unrestricted access to fatty, salty, sugary foods, researchers at the National Institute of Health looked at eating patterns in obese male human subjects in a confined ward where their eating patterns could be monitored. Initially, the researchers controlled the food intake in a pattern and quantity designed to maintain weight. Since the subjects were overweight, they were fed on average just under 3,000 calories per day.
After a few days, the subjects were allowed to eat whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, without restriction. The men were asked to follow their ordinary diet as closely as possible. They were given access to fruits, vegetables and whole grains. They also had unlimited quantities of meats, cheeses, breads, tortillas and beans, nuts, pastry, desserts, cereals, popcorn, chips and beverages. In short, they were living in the same situation that you and I live in. Unrestricted access to any food you like, all the time, every day, all year long.
When offered a wide selection of sugary, fatty, salty foods, most of us will consume excessive amounts. It is not surprising that these study participants consumed an average of 4,500 daily calories. This is 150% of what they actually needed to maintain their current weight and activity level. They consumed the caloric equivalent of 8.5 quarter-pounders a day. The researchers noted that when freely feeding, the subjects consumed more fat and more refined carbohydrates, and less whole foods such as grains and vegetables.
It appears the cause for the obesity crisis lies not in the DNA, but rather on the surface of the tongue.