This week, the annual meeting of the North American Association for the Study of Obesity is being held in New Orleans, Louisiana. A pair of studies presented on Monday examined a contributing factor in obesity and a simple way to help control appetite. The first study reported results from a series of national surveys carried out over the past three years that examined American's eating out habits. The second looked at using chewing gum as an afternoon appetite suppressant.
Researchers at Temple University carried out an analysis of people's view towards healthy foods in restaurants. The study found that "Americans are less willing to pay more for healthy dishes, less knowledgeable about healthy menu items, and more likely to consider healthy items bland tasting." According to the study's lead author,Kelley E. Borradaile, "the results underscore the importance of competitively pricing healthy foods."
Data for this study came from a series of three national phone interviews carried out in 2004, 2005, and 2006. Each survey reached at least 4,000 adults aged 18 to 98. In the 2006 survey, Americans reported eating out five times a week. Fast food was the most common choice for breakfast and lunch; for dinner, casual dining and fast food were the most common options. The survey found that those who ate fast food three to six times a week had a BMI that was "significantly greater" than those who ate less than one or two fast food meals a week. It was also found that an additional one, two, or three fast food meals correlated with an increased body mass of 0.63, 1.26, 1.86 kg, respectively. As obesity becomes a bigger and bigger health concern in the US, the series of surveys found that "Americans were less likely to pay more for healthier foods, less knowledgeable about healthy menu items and more likely to consider healthy items bland-tasting in 2006 than in 2004," according to Borradaile. Even with the increased public discourse, people are less informed about the effects of food on their daily diet.
A separate study, carried out by researchers at Glasgow Caledonian University and theWrigley Science Institute, found that chewing gum can be a good appetite suppressant. The study found that by chewing gum before an afternoon snack, one would consume 25 less snack calories. While that is not a high number, according to nutritionists, even a slight reduction in caloric intake can have significant effects in the long term. This study was comprised of 60 adults between the ages of 18 and 54. Each participant consumed a sweet and salty snack after either chewing sweet gum or not chewing gum at all. Hunger, appetite, and cravings were then monitored throughout the remainder of the day. Along with reducing caloric intake, participants reported feeling an improved mood due to reduced anxiety and stress, and increasing contentment and relaxation.