Thinking and Weight Gain

When some people think that weight gain may be mainly due to lack physical activity, some may be surprised to know that added mental activity can aid in weight gain. A small study has shown some signs that one’s level of thinking or mental activity can actually help some people gain weight to some extent. And there is some credible explanation for it too.

A research team from the University Laval in Canada have demonstrated, that intellectual work or activity can in fact lead to a substantial increase of caloric intake.

The research team, which was supervised by Dr. Angelo Tremblay monitored the caloric intake 14 students after doing one of three tasks- relaxing in a sitting position, reading and summarizing text and completing a series of mental tests on a computer. After 45 minutes into each session, the participants are then invited to eat their fill in a provided buffet.

The research team has previously established that it only requires three more calories to do each session of intellectual work as compared to a session of rest. Three calories is a relatively low energy cost for doing an intellectual task. But come time for eating, the participants who went through a session summarizing text downed an extra 203 calories.

Those who went through the mental tests on the PC eat 253 calories more after the session. The caloric intake represented an increase of 23.6 percent and 29.4 percent respectively as compared with the rest period.

Blood samples were also taken before, during and after each session. The researchers found out that doing intellectual activities caused bigger variations of glucose and insulin levels as compared to the levels of the participants at rest sessions.

The variations may be attributed to the stress caused by the stress that comes with intellectual work, as explained by Jean-Philippe Chaput, the main author of the said study. With the fluctuations in the glucose levels, the body then reacts by trying to increase its food intake in order to restore balance to glucose levels.

Mr. Chaput added, "Caloric overcompensation following intellectual work, combined with the fact that we are less physically active when doing intellectual tasks, could contribute to the obesity epidemic currently observed in industrialized countries. This is a factor that should not be ignored, considering that more and more people hold jobs of an intellectual nature", concluded the main study author.



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