Obesity rates in America are as high as ever so it’s no surprise that scientists continue to prioritize research that gains insight into how to combat this epidemic. Whether you’re trying to shed those last few pounds or lose some serious weight, take a look at these recent nuggets of scientific wisdom on weight and obesity.

Overeating and lack of exercise are the biggest problems

The sheer quantity of junk food we eat is the crux of the problem—not the food itself. Of course fast food isn’t healthy, but researchers note sugar- and salt-laced foods are eaten by both overweight and normal-weight people. It’s the tendency to overeat that’s to blame along with lack of exercise, says lead researcher David Just, co-director of the Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics. If you have a tendency to take extra bites even after you’re full, check out these expert-approved tips to avoid overeating.

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‘Balloon in a pill’ creates a full stomach and curbs appetite

One potential answer to obesity might be a “balloon in a pill,” a gastric balloon that's packed inside a capsule, which is placed inside the stomach. When the balloon is pumped full of distilled water, it significantly curbs food intake while providing a feeling of satiation. John Morton, chief of bariatric and minimally invasive surgery at Stanford University, says with more research, a noninvasive approach might be possible for a wider group of obese patients. Stay tuned.

“Food words” trigger brain activity and overeating
Merely reading words describing specific foods triggers unhealthy eating. Researchers tracked brain activity of people while they looked at words associated with high- and low-calorie foods. “Chocolate spread” and “chicken wings” were a few “food words” that got a strong response, according to study leader Susan Carnell, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Sure, those foods taste great, but if you’re watching your waistline, explore healthier versions of your favorite foods.

Moderation is unreliable, leading to weight gain

The “everything in moderation” concept, as balanced as it may sound, often leads to larger waistlines. Find out why here.

Electrical brain stimulation affects restraint

In a small NIH study, a tiny bit of electrical stimulation to the brain's prefrontal cortex (linked to behavior regulation, taste and reward) caused people to eat less, consume fewer calories from soda and fat and lose more weight. The device used in the experiment was a small, portable device with sponge electrodes—something that scientists say may be available for at-home use in the future with further research.

Mindfulness conquers negative instincts

For some, the answer to a healthy weight may be a very simple practice: mindfulness, a centuries-old Buddhist concept that is now viewed as key to losing belly fat. Read more about this study here.

The triggers that lead to overeating are very individual, and for each person the solution will be different. However, self-knowledge and a healthy dose of motivation go a long way towards achieving any goal, including weight loss. How have you tackled your food demons?

 

Sources:

  1. HealthDay: Many U.S. Women Gain Too Much Weight While Pregnant: Study
  2. HealthDay: Junk Food Not to Blame for America's Obesity Epidemic: Study (overeating is the problem
  3. HealthDay: Don't Even Talk About It: 'Food Words' Can Make You
  4. HealthDay: 'Balloon-in-a-Pill' May Be New Weight-Loss Weapon
  5. HealthDay: Could Brain Stimulation Be a Way to Weight Loss?