The Diet Detective: 5 Fun Facts About Diet and Fitness

Larger Fork Leads to Less Eating

According to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, taking bigger bites leads to eating less—in certain circumstances. The researchers observed eating behavior in one particular Italian restaurant. Diners were given either a larger or a smaller fork in order to manipulate their bite size, and all were served either larger or smaller portions. What the study found is that the diners who used the larger forks ate less than those who had been given the smaller forks when both were served large portions. "When the initial quantity of food was more (a well-loaded plate) diners with small forks ate significantly more than those with large forks. When customers were served small servings, the fork size did not affect the amount of food."

Eating Junk Food While Pregnant

A new research report published online in The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal indicates that, in one rat study, pregnant mothers who ate high-sugar and high-fat diets had babies who were likely to prefer diets that were higher in fat and sugar.

According to the study, a diet high in fat and sugar leads to changes in the fetal brain's reward pathway, altering food preferences. Researchers at the FOODplus Research Centre at the School of Agriculture, Food and Wine at the University of Adelaide in Adelaide, Australia, "studied two groups of rats that, during pregnancy and lactation, were fed either standard 'rat chow' or a junk food diet made up of a selection of common human foods high in fat and high in sugar. After the baby rats were weaned, the pups from both groups were allowed to select their own diets from either the same range of junk food or the standard rat chow. Brains from some of the pups also were collected at different times after birth and measured for levels of 'feel good' chemicals (dopamine and opioids) and the receptors these chemicals act upon. The scientists found that the group of rats whose mothers had eaten the junk food diet had higher levels of the receptor for opioids after they were weaned. This group also chose to eat more of the fatty foods as compared to the pups whose mothers ate the standard rat chow. This suggests that infants whose mothers eat excessive amounts of high-fat, high-sugar junk foods when pregnant or breastfeeding are likely to have a greater preference for these foods later in life."

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