Alexandra (or Alex) Johnstone, of the University of Aberdeen, has an impressive number of meaningful letters after her name: BSc, MSc, PhD, PGCE, RNutr. She specializes in organizing and co-ordinating multi-disciplinary team projects. For several years, she advised NeuroFAST, an organization financed by the European Union to study the neurobiology of food addiction and stress.
Prof. Johnstone also works in the field of satiety innovation which, unlike many Childhood Obesity News topics, has nothing to do with psychology. Hunger is a component of appetite, but not the only one. The body’s needs are expressed by hormonal demands.
If people only consumed food in accord with those orders, the phrase “obesity epidemic” would never have been coined because there would be no need for it. If everyone only ate when hungry, the world would be filled with fit, trim, non-overweight humans.
Through new processing methods, the researchers in satiety innovation hope to develop foods designed to suppress appetite by accelerating within-meal satiation, and by extending satiety until true hunger recurs. The purpose is to aid in weight management by helping people adhere to a healthful diet.
Hunger vs. appetite
Hunger comes before considerations of economics, availability, or social cues. It is a raw instinct designed to keep us alive. If not for the periodic signals of discomfort issued by the body, who knows? A lot of people might just forget to eat, leading to malnutrition, dysfunction, and eventually death. Hunger is, in a word, intrinsic. Why do people eat when they are not hungry? Because of appetite, which is pretty much extrinsic.
Many outside stimuli can cue up the appetite. The scent of the neighbor’s oven-roasted chicken floats out the window, and while you may not knock on the door in hope of an invitation, you will be more prone to seek out a snack than you would have been 60 seconds ago.
Even the ears can introduce appetite arousal, through the overheard clatter of silverware or the crackling of someone else’s candy wrapper or bag of chips. And then, there is the biggie — the all-pervasive purveyor of desire called advertising, whose sole purpose is to make people want, want, want.
Time is not on our side
Prof. Johnstone is also interested in chrono nutrition, or the timing of meals to intersect with the body’s intrinsic sense of when meals should be eaten. The article we speak of today has to do with another kind of timing, that of an individual’s entire lifespan.
It presents what appears to be a new concept, that there are seven “ages of appetite.” (This connects with another major project she is involved with, Full4Health, whose capsule description is “Understanding food-gut-brain mechanisms across the lifespan in the regulation of hunger and satiety for health.”)
The seven-ages premise neatly correspond with the decades of life. Regarding the first 10 years, she says:
Fussiness or fear of food can contribute to meal time struggles for parents of young children, but a strategy of repeated tasting and learning in a positive environment can help children learn about unfamiliar but important foods, such as vegetables.
Children should experience some control, particularly in relation to portion size. Being forced to “clear the plate” by parents can lead youngsters to lose their ability to follow their own appetite and hunger cues, promoting overeating in later years.
Habits developed in the second decade are important not only for the sake of the kids themselves. What they eat is crucial to posterity because the dietary decisions of teenagers “are intrinsically linked to the health of the future generations that they will be parents to.”
For the other five stages, please see “How a better understanding of the seven ages of appetite could help us stay healthy.”
Your responses and feedback are welcome!
Source: “Satiety control through food structures made by novel processing: SATIN — the SATiety INnovation,” FoodMattersLive.com, 09/23/15
Source: “How a better understanding of the seven ages of appetite could help us stay healthy,” TheConversation.com, 5/2/2018
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