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Sweet! Science Identifies the “Sugar Craving” Circuit in Our Brains

Now that we’ve identified it, can we use it to help us eat better?

image via (cc) flickr user tjadin

A new study done by researchers out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s has, for the first time, identified the existence of a specific neural pathway in the brain which regulates compulsive sugar cravings independent of the body's other appetite-related processes. That's good news for anyone who finds themselves the owner of a seriously unhealthy sweet tooth—an independent neural circuit responsible for extreme sugar cravings has the potential to be treated without interfering with the body's natural appetite for other (hopefully healthier) foods.

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Could Charging People for Uneaten Food in Restaurants Help Us Stop Wasting It?

An increasing number of restaurants are making people pay for getting more food than they can eat. That's a great idea.


Every year, the world wastes 1.3 billion tons of food, according to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization. That's about 33 percent of all food produced annually. In rich nations alone, 222 million tons of food is lost by consumers outright throwing it into the garbage. That is almost the equivalent of all the food made in sub-Saharan Africa every year. In a word, our problem with food waste is disastrous.

At least one business in London is attempting to solve the problem commercially. Diners at the Kylin Buffet, a Chinese restaurant, have been surprised to find that they're charged a $32 "wastage" fee if they take more food from the buffet they can eat. "To avoid food wastage, we recommend you do not unnecessary [sic] overfill your plate," says a sign in the restaurant. "Please take only what you can eat." When customers complain about Kylin's wastage policy, as a woman recently did to the Daily Mail, the owner stands by his rules, saying, "we have to charge for wastage of food. We stand by our policies."

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Can Using This App a Day Keep the Doctor Away?

Analyzing eating trends rather than calorie counting may be the key to staying fit. A new app, The Eatery, will do the math part for you.

Wisdom about healthy eating has always been crowdsourced, even before the days of social media and memes. Take the adage "An an apple a day keeps the doctor away," believed to have originated in 19th-century Wales before going word-of-mouth viral to reach the ears of generations of children. While today's technology makes it easier to spread that sort of nutritional advice, a similar idea is encoded in new smartphone apps like The Eatery: Other people are often better at telling us what to eat.

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Russia Finally Calling Beer Alcohol, Not Food New Russian Law Says Beer Is Not Food

A new law in Russia has closed a loophole that allowed anything with less than 10 percent alcohol to be considered a "foodstuff."

Though oil money is plentiful in post-Soviet Russia, little of that cash trickles down to most of the nation's nearly 142 million citizens. Russians have long been known for love of the drink, and with about 19 million Russians now living below the poverty line, struggles with drugs and alcohol are on the rise. According to a 2010 Kremlin Advisory Panel, alcoholism in Russia has gotten so bad that 500,000 people die annually from diseases, crimes, and accidents related to alcohol. For men, who tend to guzzle more than women, the average life expectancy in Russia is now a wildly premature 60.

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