WHAT. Researchers in Europe looked at the impact of attention and planning on selected portion size in adults who were overweight, obese and of normal weight. They found that all participants reduced their portion size when focused on the health effects of the food, which increased their overall self-control network, as evidenced on neuroimaging (fMRI). The study also found that overweight and obese weight subjects selected larger portions than those in the normal-weight group when focused on the pleasure effects of the meal.
WHY IT MATTERS. Published online in the International Journal of Obesity, this small study is an elegant examination of the impact cognition may have on portion selection and obesity risk.
It suggests that cognitive modification may be an important way to address the growing obesity epidemic, including perhaps consideration of serving sizes. It is an interesting study from a brain health perspective, both because of the known health impact of diet and weight on dementia risk as well as the use of cognitive interventions to modify eating behavior.
THE TAKEWAY. Want to eat healthier and manage your weight more effectively? Keep your mind set on the health impact of your food as you select your meal and portion size, rather than only on the pleasure it may bring. Your choices can still be delicious, just perhaps better for you and for your brain!
Veit R, Horstman LI, Hege MA et al. Health, pleasure, and fullness: changing mindset affects brain responses and portion size selection in adults with overweight and obesity. Int J Obes 2019 Jun 18. doi: 10.1038/s41366-019-0400-6.