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Losing weight by controlling flavor variety

A major cause of overeating is eating too many flavors all at once, triggering the hypothalamus in the brain to ask for more food, according to David Katz, M.D., of the Prevention Research Center and the Rudd Food Center for Food Policy & Obesity at Yale University.

This is the premise of his new book, "The Flavor Point Diet" (Rodale Press), based on a phenomenon he said is well studied, but is well known only to appetite researchers--sensory specific satiety.

"We stay hungry longer the more diverse the flavors in a meal or snack," said Katz, a professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at Yale School of Medicine. "If flavors are thoughtfully distributed, we fill up on fewer calories. This explains why, for instance, people can eat a holiday meal to the point of feeling unpleasantly full, yet still have room for dessert. No, that's not because you have a 'hollow leg!' It's because of sensory specific satiety; the hypothalamus is hard-wired to respond to flavors."

A pilot study of Katz's eating plan was conducted with 20 men and women, and their families, for 12 weeks. Katz said the mean weight loss over that time was 16 pounds with persons losing from 10 to 31 pounds. The study participants also lost body fat and saw their cholesterol, blood sugar, insulin, and blood pressure decline.

He said ethnic foods, such as Italian and Indian, are good examples of flavor thematic eating. Top chefs also plan meals around a harmonious blend of flavors. Katz said sensory specific satiety likely evolved because dietary variety was difficult to achieve when humans had to gather and hunt for food, but was nonetheless vital for survival. It takes a variety of foods to provide all of the nutrients we need. But the survival advantage this trait offered is now a disadvantage because we are exposed constantly to an unprecedented variety of foods. The result is an over-stimulated appetite center, too much eating and weight gain. <
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Contact: Jacqueline Weaver
jacqueline.weaver@yale.edu
203-432-8555
Yale University
5-Jan-2006


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