GOOD

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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Surprise! Subsidizing Healthy Food Helps Kids Lose Weight Childhood Obesity Can Be Counteracted with Health-Food Subsidies

A new U.S.D.A. study says cutting the costs of healthy food has a significant impact on kids' weights. Let's stop subsidizing corn syrup.


It seems obvious to anyone who's ever paid money for something: Make things cheaper, especially things people absolutely need, and you'll sell more of them. And yet it seems the U.S. government has yet to grasp that lesson. For decades now, America has been struggling with rising obesity, but rather than invest in subsidizing healthy foods for citizens, the government has instead dumped tens of billions of dollars into corn subsidies. What that's done is give rise to vast stockpiles of corn syrup, corn chips and soda, all on the taxpayer's dime. Whereas more than $15 billion in subsidies went to corn, cotton, rice, wheat and soybeans in 2009, only $825 million went to fruits and vegetables. We're not just getting fat, we're paying to do so out of both hands (once with our taxes and once at the store).

A new report (PDF) from the U.S.D.A.'s Economic Research Service outlines exactly how damaging these subsidies are on America's children. Working on behalf of Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" campaign against youth obesity, a team was able to ascertain that just a 10-percent decrease in the price of lowfat milk for one quarter was associated with a .35-percent drop in children's BMIs. Similarly, lowering the cost of dark green vegetables by 10 percent saw a .28-percent BMI drop. And the effect worked both ways: When the price of sweets fell, BMIs increased.

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Food for Thinkers: The Ideal Shape of Chewing Gum (and Other, Similar Concerns)

Dan Pashman, host of The Sporkful podcast, details the hyper-functional concerns of the eating obsessed.


Dan Pashman, cohost of The Sporkful podcast, cuts to the Food for Thinkers chase. Why does food matter to him? Simple:

FACT: Food is necessary to sustain human life.

That's pretty much it. [...] The experience of eating is, in fact, universal, even more so than classic human touchstones such as reproducing, paying taxes, fearing death, and watching The Real Housewives.

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