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Canadian Researchers Say Hard Thinking Leads To Big Meals

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the we-only-use-10-percent-of-our-stomach dept.

Science 150

Anti-Globalism writes with an excerpt from a story at Ars Technica, according to which "a preliminary study from a group of researchers in Quebec suggest that working on a computer may have an additional impact on our waistlines: taxing mental effort appears to cause people to eat significantly more food, even though it doesn't burn many more calories than sitting around and relaxing. The publication, published in a journal called Psychosomatic Medicine, arose from a pilot study that the researchers were performing in order to determine whether a potential connection between mental effort and eating was worth following up on."

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Vindication (5, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 5 years ago | (#24908449)

First to clear up a small matter. Merely reading the summary is somewhat misleading. While the brain's actual energy usage stays consistent, the study shows that blood sugar and insulin levels varied radically during the tests. Furthermore, the subjects in the tests showed marked signs of stress, including heightened levels of cortisol in their bloodstream. Here's the relevant section:

The authors provide two potential explanations for their findings, both of which may be accurate to varying degrees. The first involves sugar metabolism. The brain is especially reliant on glucose, and the blood tests revealed that both glucose and insulin levels changed during the KBW tasks, while they gently sloped off during the relaxation. The differences weren't consistent--the two KBW tasks sent the levels in opposite directions--but the instability of the levels was large for both of them. The authors suggest that the eating may simply be an attempt to give the body the chance to stabilize blood glucose.

Their other suggestion is that people find KBW stressful. Both the survey results and blood levels of cortisol (a hormone associated with stress) indicated that the KBW tasks took a mental toll. High stress has been associated with increased eating in a variety of contexts, so the upped food intake in this study may simply reflect that.

What's particularly interesting about these results is that two things have been known for a while now. The first is that the brain's energy usage is relatively constant regardless of the task. However, it has also been clear that severe mental activity can result in signs of fatigue, exhaustion, and greater energy consumption. I personally can attest to these symptoms after several extremely challenging programming tasks. (Ever tried cobbling together an emergency replacement JSP engine inside 3 hours? That was... interesting.) Yet this is simply at odds with the scientific evidence on hand.

This study finally offers evidence to break the impasse. It is the first evidence to clearly show that there is a physiological and not merely a psychological effect from extreme mental work. I look forward to hearing the results of future studies. Perhaps a more effective diet or lifestyle can be devised to make knowledge workers more effective.

Re:Vindication (4, Insightful)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 5 years ago | (#24908497)

Sedentary work + stress = overeating, who would have thunk it?

The real problem is the desire for money outweighs (pardon the pun) the desire for a sane society, i.e. exercise, etc. Having a certain amount of hours off a week for exercise/relaxation and whatnot, I was just reading something about how americans have near the least vacaton time a year compared to other industrialized nations.

I'm not surprised given the nature of our stupidity when it comes to taking care of ourselves, money first, health later.

Re:Vindication (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24908663)

Sedentary work + stress = overeating, who would have thunk it?

The real problem is the desire for money outweighs (pardon the pun) the desire for a sane society, i.e. exercise, etc. Having a certain amount of hours off a week for exercise/relaxation and whatnot, I was just reading something about how americans have near the least vacaton time a year compared to other industrialized nations.

I'm not surprised given the nature of our stupidity when it comes to taking care of ourselves, money first, health later.

when your health depends on your ability to make money (most other industrialized and "civilized" nations have affordable health care, you kinda get used to working yourself to death to make sure you have enough to pay personal premiums, or to make sure your employer doesn't terminate you, or to advance within a company because leaving in search of a better position means lacking healthcare for the interim.

Re:Vindication (2, Interesting)

JamesTRexx (675890) | more than 5 years ago | (#24908785)

Although I don't disagree with the desire for money being a real problem, it has nothing to do with the study.
Whether it's one day, or 5 days in the week, when I'm at work solving whatever problems show up on network/server/client side, I feel more hungry and eat something several times a day.
I'm much less hungry when I can relax during the day and don't have to sort out a chaos. In the past 3 weeks vacation I've eaten mostly 1 or 2 times a day and lost about 5 kgs. And I'm definitely eating a lot more healthy at work than in these weeks. I've also been a lot less active so that's no excuse either.

Re:Vindication (1)

mpe (36238) | more than 5 years ago | (#24910845)

Whether it's one day, or 5 days in the week, when I'm at work solving whatever problems show up on network/server/client side, I feel more hungry and eat something several times a day. I'm much less hungry when I can relax during the day and don't have to sort out a chaos. In the past 3 weeks vacation I've eaten mostly 1 or 2 times a day and lost about 5 kgs. And I'm definitely eating a lot more healthy at work than in these weeks. I've also been a lot less active so that's no excuse either.

Or maybe current ideas about "healthy eating" are incorrect in some ways.

Re:Vindication (1)

mh1997 (1065630) | more than 5 years ago | (#24908849)

The real problem is the desire for money outweighs (pardon the pun) the desire for a sane society, i.e. exercise, etc. Having a certain amount of hours off a week for exercise/relaxation and whatnot, I was just reading something about how americans have near the least vacaton time a year compared to other industrialized nations.

Then how do you explain the study "Unemployment, cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption and body weight in young British men" by SCOTT M. MONTGOMERY1, DEREK G. COOK2, MEL J. BARTLEY3 and MICHAEL E.J. WADSWORTH3? They found when british men become unemployed they get fat. Seems to me they have plenty of time to exercise.

Maybe there is something other than time off that determines if a person is willing to exercise - like desire. It is really hard for me to find the time to exercise because I don't want to. However, I can find plenty of time to play video games and watch TV on my time off.

Re:Vindication (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909367)

Then how do you explain the study "Unemployment, cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption and body weight in young British men" by SCOTT M. MONTGOMERY1, DEREK G. COOK2, MEL J. BARTLEY3 and MICHAEL E.J. WADSWORTH3? They found when british men become unemployed they get fat. Seems to me they have plenty of time to exercise.

Maybe they are depressed and that working isn't so stressful over there. I have something anecdotal. Even though I myself haven't had any adverse effects to my own health, I do work in a very stressful job and often have noted new employees gaining lots of weight here since working.

We all have mortgages to pay (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 5 years ago | (#24908873)

Auto financing, credit card bills etc.

Oh wait...

A debt based monetary system may have an adverse effect on those living within it?

 

Re:We all have mortgages to pay (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909449)

A debt based monetary system may have an adverse effect on those living within it?

The other day I was looking for investment opportunities and came across Prosper.com [prosper.com] which is a P2P lending company which you give to micro invest in people's loans. Reading some of the stories of why these people need loans started to make me laugh and then start to die inside a little bit after realizing that America is full of these people who just don't know how to deal with financial responsibility. One guy on there was asking for a $5,000 loan in order to buy stocks. That's the most retarded thing I can think of that you can do with a loan besides go to Las Vegas with it.

Sadly, our society cannot function without credit because its there in the first place. Because we can have mortgages and car loans, the demand for housing and cars increase which of course leads to higher prices which means the chance of getting. This is most likley tied into the situation we have with Freddie and Fannie now and the housing fiasco.

The only solution I can think of is to actually focus on long term solutions is get a house that is close enough public transportation which you intend to pay off in 30 years and then keep it in the family so that future generations don't have to put up with this crap.

I think the majority of our societal problems is related to ignorance towards what we need and what we want and the issues that puts on everyone else. Personally, I don't really care that other people took out loans they couldn't pay back, but when it starts to affect my life because of the national economic situation then it becomes bothersome.

Then again, I suppose I should start living off of other people's ignorance and bid on their loans.

Re:We all have mortgages to pay (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 5 years ago | (#24910457)

One guy on there was asking for a $5,000 loan in order to buy stocks. That's the most retarded thing I can think of that you can do with a loan besides go to Las Vegas with it.

Sigh...it is very tiresome to hear the same wrong headed myths about investment == gambling that have been circulating for years and gaining currency among the younger generations. Although it is possible to approach investment as a form of gambling, doing no research and simply purchasing shares or options in a randomly selected entity for example, most people that I know who actually do invest their money do not approach investing in that way. The investing == gambling argument is most frequently mentioned, at least in my experience, by those who do not save very much of their own money and are looking to rationalize their overspending by suggesting that those of us who save and invest our money, in stocks perhaps, are no better than gamblers. As for borrowing money to invest in stocks, this is done all of the time by professional fund managers (it is called leverage) in order to boost returns on a good investment opportunity so it is not 'retarded' per se, although it is unusual for an individual investor to borrow such a small sum of money to invest (it would be far better for him to save up $5,000 of his own money and then start his investing career with that instead).

Personally, I don't really care that other people took out loans they couldn't pay back, but when it starts to affect my life because of the national economic situation then it becomes bothersome.

I share your frustration on that count, truly I do, but the alternatives are probably worse (i.e. the gold standard) overall. The problem, at least in my opinion which is shared by Ron Paul who has shaped and brought it to the public attention, is that the politicization of the money supply and its management has led to the present situation. In theory, a well managed fiat money system can have almost all of the benefits of a gold standard without some of the hard limits on growth, although in practice the results have been somewhat mixed since then end of the 1970s. The government, in my opinion, has no business interfering in the housing market either by granting tax deductions on mortgage interest OR (even worse) backing loans with taxpayer money. I hope that everyone learns a clear lesson from the present Fannie and Freddie fiasco (a small recession might be just the thing to shock everyone back to reality...the proverbial bucket of cold water). These entities should be absorbed by the federal government, disolved, and NO new loans should be issued and in fact the existing loans should be sold into the private market. If people want a loan for any reason, whether to buy a car or a house or whatever else, then they can enter the private credit market and pay the market rate. Why should taxpayers, many of whom cannot afford to buy a home, subsidize the loans of those who want home mortgages (which is essentially what Fanny and Freddie have been doing all of these years)? Government interference in the markets is at the root of almost all of our present economic problems and we would all be much better off if government butted out and returned to its proper and constitutionally mandated roles.

Re:We all have mortgages to pay (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 5 years ago | (#24911249)

Sigh...it is very tiresome to hear the same wrong headed myths about investment == gambling that have been circulating for years and gaining currency among the younger generations.

While I don't believe gambling is equal to investing either, I just had the impression that this particular person [prosper.com] was going to blow it all on penny stocks or into a risky businesses he had no good knowledge off. Secondly which I should have explained, he was getting a three year loan at 24% which is pushing it real hard if he was going to invest in something secure like a SP500 ETF index.

There is nothing wrong in taking a margin account with your broker at say 7.9% and then investing it into a corporate bond that gives 9% or a growth stock that will give 10%+.

I was just trying to imply that borrowing money at high interest to invest in the stock market without a good plan is a bad idea because there is the possibility that if you invest poorly that you'll loose the investment and still owe money.

And yes fund managers do generally leverage all the time with borrowed money but they generally know what they are doing (well some of the time) and tend to diversify to reduce risk.

But yeah I agree pretty much on your second statement.

Re:We all have mortgages to pay (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 5 years ago | (#24911511)

The stock market certainly is gambling. It is just a game that has historically had an average payout over 100%. It is always disheartening when I hear people claiming that the stock market isn't gambling. It is the same feeling I got when people would tell me that buying investment housing wasn't gambling. Saying that good investors do their research before buying stock certainly does not change whether stocks are a gamble or not. EVERY decent blackjack player does their research on every hand. They certainly don't just bet without looking at their cards.

The stack market MAY be a good bet, but it is definitely gambling.

Re:We all have mortgages to pay (1)

linzeal (197905) | more than 5 years ago | (#24911331)

Why? The only thing you really need to borrow for is a house. If you can't pay cash for your food, lifestyle and gas from month to month you need to look at what you are consuming and a make a change. Some weeks I eat peanut butter sandwiches for every lunch (7 dollars for the whole week of lunches) but I have not had a credit card bill I have not paid off in full at the end of the month in 4 years. Do you really need to spend 10-30 dollars a day at lunch that is 300-900 a month, do you really need to drive to work because my commute at 5 dollars a day is 1/5th the price I would pay for parking and gas and does your kid, you or your significant other really need another whiz-bang gadget?

Re:Vindication (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24908503)

two things have been known for a while now. The first is that the brain's energy usage is relatively constant regardless of the task. However, it has also been clear that severe mental activity can result in... greater energy consumption.

So you're saying we've known "A" but also "NOT A".

What?!

I read the article but it says that people who stress out thinking more eat more. Okay, how does that "break the impasse" described above?

I happen to believe that thinking hard- programming- writing- puzzle-solving for hours on end burns way more energy as opposed to sitting on your ass watching a sitcom. It just has to, right? Yeah it probably also involves some stress which may make you hungrier, although sometimes focused thought promotes meal-skipping when you get in that zone and lose track of time and thus skip meals...

Hard thinking may lead to big meals, but at least in the US, it seems casual thinking or not thinking at all leads to big meals too.

Re:Vindication (2, Insightful)

Thiez (1281866) | more than 5 years ago | (#24908899)

> I happen to believe that thinking hard- programming- writing- puzzle-solving for hours on end burns way more energy as opposed to sitting on your ass watching a sitcom. It just has to, right?

Depends. Maybe the difference in energy-consumption between a programming brain and a sitcom-watching brain is very small, or even insignificant. Note that while you may not feel like you're thinking much while watching that sitcom, your brain is doing all kinds of (difficult) stuff like facial recognition and speech recognition. While you are programming/writing/puzzle-solving you usually don't have to pay attention to faces and sounds.

Maybe concious activities merely feel more tiring than unconcious ones, but actually aren't.

Hormones (1)

francisstp (1137345) | more than 5 years ago | (#24910621)

The apparent paradox is solved when we think in terms of hormonal response.

We don't overeat because we've expanded more energy, but because hormone levels, especially insulin, have changed in the blood. So the increased mental activity might have had no effect on calories expanded but it did have a significant influence on cortisol and insulin.

Re:Vindication (1)

mpe (36238) | more than 5 years ago | (#24911135)

I happen to believe that thinking hard- programming- writing- puzzle-solving for hours on end burns way more energy as opposed to sitting on your ass watching a sitcom. It just has to, right? Yeah it probably also involves some stress which may make you hungrier, although sometimes focused thought promotes meal-skipping when you get in that zone and lose track of time and thus skip meals...

Or it could be that rather than "energy" what is being consumed are specific chemicals. If the food you are eating is poor in terms of either these chemicals (or chemicals the human body can use to make what it needs) then you are going to have to eat a lot to get what you need. (There may also be a mechanism involved that such a situation tricks your body into "believing" that you are being starved even if whatever you are eating is rich in lots of stuff your body dosn't actually need at the time.)

"Anti-Globalism" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24908509)

I have to say it irks me when I see stories submitted from "anti-globalism" not because I have any particular opinion on the story. It's the motives of "anti-globalism" for making the submissions to slashdot that seem suspect of trying to shuffle readers to their website to push their agenda and ideology. Slashdot readers should know that corrupt.org is affiliated with nazi.org, hitler.org, nsbm.org and generally promotes fascist and nationalist politics.

Re:"Anti-Globalism" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24908571)

In this case "The way to tackle obesity is to stop dangerous independent thought!"?

Re:"Anti-Globalism" (1)

Collapsing Empire (1268240) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909469)

You have a choice not to read their website, and people are free to form their own opinions. They don't need to be babied when reading certain ideologies (what, are you afraid that people are going to turn into Nazis after reading Corrupt.org?).

Does it also bother you that Corrupt supports black nationalism, Tibetan nationalism, and Jewish nationalism (in the tradition of Rabbi Mier Kahane)? Oh wait, its only bad when whites try to assert their ethnic identity.

Please try paying more attention in the future.

Re:"Anti-Globalism" (1)

Eli Gottlieb (917758) | more than 5 years ago | (#24910271)

Well Kahanism certainly worries the fuck out of *me*.

Re:"Anti-Globalism" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24911551)

So I guess you're another one of those braindead antisemites or self-hating Jews.

Which is it?

Re:"Anti-Globalism" (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24909503)

"promotes fascist and nationalist politics."

Really??? Where do I sign up? Wait, are you trying to imply that these are bad things? Explain (if you can)!

AC is as incorrect as he is anonymous (1)

burnitdown (1076427) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909919)

Slashdot readers should know that corrupt.org is affiliated with nazi.org, hitler.org, nsbm.org and generally promotes fascist and nationalist politics.

No, they're not.

We're on a free speech ISP that is able to host us by hosting others, including a raft of porn and extreme political sites of both leftist and rightist stripe.

You fail at internet pathology 101 ;)

Re:Vindication (4, Funny)

Venik (915777) | more than 5 years ago | (#24908609)

Perhaps this also explains my lack of appetite :)

Re:Vindication (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#24908829)

I propose a third explanation. When you are thinking hard, you are exhausting neurotransmitters at a greater rate, even if you are not using more energy. Several of these require sodium to produce, which needs therefore to be consumed from food. I find that low fat crisps or rice crackers are an excellent accompaniment to thinking hard about something - this gets rid of the hunger very quickly without providing much other than salt. In contrast, high-sugar foods seem to have little effect on reducing the hunger felt, and water can make it even worse. Without knowing what food the people consumed, this study is not very valuable.

Re:Vindication (2, Interesting)

mpe (36238) | more than 5 years ago | (#24910993)

When you are thinking hard, you are exhausting neurotransmitters at a greater rate, even if you are not using more energy. Several of these require sodium to produce, which needs therefore to be consumed from food. I find that low fat crisps or rice crackers are an excellent accompaniment to thinking hard about something - this gets rid of the hunger very quickly without providing much other than salt.

Remember it's currently fashionably to regard sodium as "bad". With KCl or even more exotic salts being used as a replacement for NaCl...

Without knowing what food the people consumed, this study is not very valuable.

This is an issue with many dietary studies.
Together with the simple fact that measuring the "energy value" of food by burning it in pure oxygen is at best an approximation and at worst a complete fiction about what the human body will do with it. i.e. testing the same mass of glucose and cellulose in a calorimeter will give you the same results. But you'd get very different results from feeding them to a human (you probably wouldn't even get the same results if you used termites, which have bacterial symbiotes which enable the digestion of cellulose.)

Re:Vindication (1)

D4C5CE (578304) | more than 5 years ago | (#24910053)

However, it has also been clear that severe mental activity can result in signs of fatigue, exhaustion, and greater energy consumption. [...] It is the first evidence to clearly show that there is a physiological and not merely a psychological effect from extreme mental work. I look forward to hearing the results of future studies. Perhaps a more effective diet or lifestyle can be devised to make knowledge workers more effective.

On the other hand, putting only low-cal food in reach of course, it should be tested whether an unforeseen weight loss program might be "if you can't make them exercise, make them think!"
E.g. whether one will become less of a couch potato if a games console with some sort of "brain trainer" is added to the TV...

Re:Vindication (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 5 years ago | (#24910287)

Ever tried cobbling together an emergency replacement JSP engine inside 3 hours?

I cannot imagine the circumstances. Perhaps you could elaborate on why it was necessary to reinvent the wheel in that particular case?

Re:Vindication (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 5 years ago | (#24910585)

Primarily because the existing one was broken. But it only showed up broken under a load. Which meant that it didn't show up until testing until a few days before deployment. Worse yet, it's not like we could replace the server at the last minute as we were already invested in the vendor's extensions. (Something which I was a vocal opponent of.)

We contacted the vendor and were promised an emergency patch. The patch arrived the day of the deployment. Testing began... and failed. The patch didn't work. But if we didn't get this new piece of the application out that day, we'd fail our contract with our partners. Effectively, we were stuck in a no-win situation. (One could easily argue that better planning would have avoided the issue, but that's neither here nor there once you're staring down the barrel.)

So my solution was to change the rules. I pulled up the vendor's meager documentation on their JSPC compiler and set to work on a replacement engine that used as much of the vendor's original code as possible. All the libraries and the compiler itself were left intact, but the key part we wanted to replace (the part that loaded JSPS pages, initiated, included, and forwarded requests) was what I focused on. In 3 hours, I did the research, the reverse engineering, and the implementation to make it happen. The code was load tested with barely a half hour to spare. An exhausting bit of work. But it saved the day. :-)

There was one minor bug fix required later that night, and I added development features like dynamic reloading the next day. The powers that be were so happy with the solution that when the vendor finally got us a working patch, no one was in any hurry to install it. I honestly don't remember if we ever replaced my jury-rigged engine or not!

Re:Vindication (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#24910305)

Here's the relevant section:

Good thing I spotted this line, or else I would have been guilty of reading part of TFA.

Re:Vindication (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24911595)

heightened levels of cortisol in their bloodstream.

So the Force is strong with this one?

I'm sorry... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24908465)

But obesity is, by and large a problem of your own making. Attempting to justify it through these means is kind of ridiculous. Don't eat more than you burn.

Yeah, I guess thinking might cause calorie burn which can lead to hunger, but that does not justify eating crap while at a computer and wondering why you're fat.

I am an exception (5, Interesting)

Slur (61510) | more than 5 years ago | (#24908477)

Long hours computing causes me to forget food... and sleep... and water... and stretching... but interestingly, not sex! Perhaps there's a study I could take part in?

On the other hand, I'm a vegan, so maybe I'm immune. I don't ever crave cheese or animal fats, having not eaten any of either for many years.

Re:I am an exception (5, Funny)

EdZ (755139) | more than 5 years ago | (#24908499)

I eat mainly meat-based meals ("Vegetables? that's not food, that's what food EATS!"), but I can honestly say I've never craved animal fats.

Re:I am an exception (1)

Adam Hazzlebank (970369) | more than 5 years ago | (#24910967)

Vegan: Someone who slaughters and kills fruits, and vegetables.

Re:I am an exception (0, Troll)

Vetrik (1311131) | more than 5 years ago | (#24908513)

Long hours computing causes me to forget food... and sleep... and water... and stretching... but interestingly, not sex! Perhaps there's a study I could take part in?

On the other hand, I'm a vegan, so maybe I'm immune. I don't ever crave cheese or animal fats, having not eaten any of either for many years.

No, maybe you are just an idiot... You know that phrase "Stop and smell the roses"? Try that sometime.

Re:I am an exception (4, Funny)

the_womble (580291) | more than 5 years ago | (#24908517)

Long hours computing causes me to forget food... and sleep... and water... and stretching... but interestingly, not sex!

  1. So at least you get some exercise
  2. Are your long hours computing surfing for porn?

Re:I am an exception (4, Funny)

thhamm (764787) | more than 5 years ago | (#24908557)

On the other hand, I'm a vegan, so maybe I'm immune.

I'm a level 5 vegan [urbandictionary.com] -- I won't eat anything that casts a shadow!

Re:I am an exception (1)

Dannkape (1195229) | more than 5 years ago | (#24908861)

I'm a level 5 vegan [urbandictionary.com] -- I won't eat anything that casts a shadow!

Time to start a farm in Antarctica during the winter, or in a dark cellar.

Re:I am an exception (1)

catmistake (814204) | more than 5 years ago | (#24908621)

Does lack of sleep actually energize you? Makes you more lucid with a hit on judgement? The less you eat, the more energy you have? Have you been very sad more than 3 times in the last year? Be very careful, and if you find yourself running down the street naked as the Son of God, try Lithium or any of the new mood stablisers.

Re:I am an exception (4, Interesting)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 5 years ago | (#24908685)

Me too... I don't think we are unique snowflakes here. The traditional geek stereotype for decades has been skin and bones, with the fat pizza-and-coke eating kind a relatively new phenomenon.

Re:I am an exception (1)

conner_bw (120497) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909057)

Same here. I eat a ridiculous amount of food, but am disproportionally skinny.

Basically, if geeking out requires brainpower which requires food, a well adjusted metabolism burns what you need..That's the whole point of food, it's either being used or being stored. This study only seems to validate this, not justify why people are fat?

Diet, and a bit of exercise too, of course. A human can't cruise through life a junk eaingt sloth without severe health problems, obesity being one of many.

Re:I am an exception (2, Interesting)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 5 years ago | (#24911079)

Really? Have you ever seen portraits of Ben Franklin? Now, _there_ is an archetypal geek. The man _invented_ public libraries, and bi-focal glasses for us older geeks.

Re:I am an exception (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24909217)

MMMMMMM, Animal fats, mmmmmmm, (slobber)

Re:I am an exception (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24911133)

Long hours computing causes me to forget food... and sleep... and water... and stretching... but interestingly, not sex!

I hear that's normal for nerds ... they'll forget what they've eaten, whether they've slept, but they can always remember the one time in their life when they actually had sex. (Sadly the same is not true for their partner.)

Niggers (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24908479)

Niggerdicks [goatse.cz]

Re:Niggers (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24908675)

This deserves to be modded to +5 insightful!

Why are the mods so racist against niggerdicks?

perhaps (3, Interesting)

n3tcat (664243) | more than 5 years ago | (#24908481)

... the body thinks that due to the mental taxation, that the overall body has been taxed in the same way, and therefore is tricked into expecting that the body will require food. maybe when the body exercises or performs physically intensive tasks, it creates the same signals in the brain that thinking hard does. I didn't have time to RTFA so maybe they said that already.

Weight a minute! (2, Interesting)

Wowsers (1151731) | more than 5 years ago | (#24908501)

I am a _little_ from ideal weight because sometimes coding is mentally exhaustive that I don't feel like doing exercise. However, when stuck into a particular computer task which I want to get out of the way, I don't feel like eating and don't miss food, just need to have a (non soft drink) drink.

No healthy choices, just vended carbs and pop. (1)

jimmydevice (699057) | more than 5 years ago | (#24908511)

That, and setting on your ass all day.

consistent (5, Interesting)

leomekenkamp (566309) | more than 5 years ago | (#24908515)

Seems consistent with what I found happened to my body when I changed my eating habits. I now eat only fruit in the morning and after that I eat bread, but only when I feel a bit hungry. As soon as the hunger is over I stop eating. I do not get my 3 meals a day, it is more like 5 or 6 very small meals and one regular one for diner. I now fit the same jeans as 19 years ago (501, 31" / 34") and I feel better during the day; no more cravings.

I have got a hunch that eating small meals keeps one's insulin and glucose levels more constant than eating big meals.

Re:consistent (1)

darthdavid (835069) | more than 5 years ago | (#24908583)

I seem to recall a study somewhere that confirmed the effectiveness of your method. I shall endeavor to find it...

Re:consistent (2, Insightful)

StarfishOne (756076) | more than 5 years ago | (#24908659)

"I have got a hunch that eating small meals keeps one's insulin and glucose levels more constant than eating big meals."

Not to state that you have it, but it sounds like the eating pattern (many small vs. fewer big meals) is fairly similar to what is recommended for people who have hypoglycemia.

Re:consistent (1)

TheStonepedo (885845) | more than 5 years ago | (#24911225)

19 year old jeans are now called "vintage" and wearing old stuff is stylish. Well played, sir.

Aww damn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24908525)

Does that mean I have to choose between 'yo momma so fat' and 'yo momma so dumb' jokes now? 'Yo momma so fat she got a Nobel prize for thinking so hard' just doesn't have the same ring to it.

Re:Yo Mama So Fat... (4, Funny)

Nymz (905908) | more than 5 years ago | (#24908623)

'Yo momma so fat she got a Nobel prize for thinking so hard'

Yo mama so fat she can verify the latest Mersenne prime number [slashdot.org] just by thinking about it.

Re:Yo Mama So Fat... (1)

mikiN (75494) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909033)

Just imagine a Beowulf cluster of her and her sisters jumping into a swimming pool and you have a (camel-)TOE using String Theory, cup size D-Branes and lots of quantum gravity to unify quantum mechanics and general relativity, all demonstrated by a spectacular Big Bang (erhm Splash).

I think... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24908581)

therefore I am fat

Now I get it (1)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 5 years ago | (#24908585)

I always knew I was brighter than everybody else. Now my love of between-meal snacks is explained, as well. Truly, this is a banner day in Canadian research!

If only they could somehow tie in above-average masculine endowment (if you get my drift), good looks and, of course, modest demeanor, my presence on Earth would finally be explained.

I await the expected shower of acclaim with my usual blend of aplomb and unpretentious good grace. And appropriate willingness to seek cover from a shower of more tangible (and less agreeable) expressions of esteem.

"I think, therefore I'm fat." (5, Funny)

bugeaterr (836984) | more than 5 years ago | (#24908607)

"I think, therefore I'm fat."

And whenever I'm at a restaurant, I order a la Descartes.

Re:"I think, therefore I'm fat." (1)

barocco (1168573) | more than 5 years ago | (#24908733)

So what kind of thought makes one develop hunger for insects?

Re:"I think, therefore I'm fat." (5, Funny)

Kuroji (990107) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909293)

Des Cartes walks into a bar and orders himself a drink. The bartender says to him, "Do you want a refill?" Des Cartes replies, "I think not." And he disappears into a puff of smoke.

Re:"I think, therefore I'm fat." (1)

Centurix (249778) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909697)

Why do I NEVER have mod points when I need them? Thanks, my day is much better...

Re:"I think, therefore I'm fat." (1)

Kuroji (990107) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909789)

Probably for the same reason that I apparently haven't had any mod points since July.

Re:"I think, therefore I'm fat." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24910529)

And since your post is Funny, you will probably not get any better karma from it either. ;-)

I knew it (4, Funny)

dancingmad (128588) | more than 5 years ago | (#24908615)

I'm not fat, I'm just smart.

Maybe it's just me.... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24908619)

but I call total bullshit. How do you correlate "working on a computer" with "mental effort"? Absolute rubbish.

The reason computer-dwellers eat so much is basically a combination of boredom, stress, and just the way of life of our kind. As far as I'm concerned, it has nothing to do with brain usage. Computers are like TV... when you watch TV, you munch on food because there's NOTHING ELSE TO DO! I think it's pretty common that sitting on your ass leads to needing to find something to do while sitting on one's ass. And popping food into the mouth is the easiest and most comforting thing to do. Either that, or you smoke.

So no offense, but determining that people who sit on their asses equals people using their brains equals eating is the biggest excuse since sliced bread.

Hrm, speaking of sliced bread... it's time for a sandwich!

Re:Maybe it's just me.... (1)

Cillian (1003268) | more than 5 years ago | (#24908801)

Um. I'm sorry. Having just RTFA, it's just just working on a computer, they specifically used a mentally challenging task which just happened to be on a computer. Still, not your fault. Just another case of, somewhat bad summary. Title and conclusion is spot on, though.

Re:Maybe it's just me.... (1)

SirLurksAlot (1169039) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909813)

but I call total bullshit. How do you correlate "working on a computer" with "mental effort"? Absolute rubbish.

Ok, I'm fairly certain that you're just trolling here, but I'll bite.

First, I'm guessing that you probably don't work in IT. I do, and I can attest that when I'm sitting in front of the computer at work I'm not just doing nothing (95% of the time, the other 5% is spent here or checking my mail or RSS feeds), I'm busy working on whatever problem is at hand. Despite what you might believe, writing code is HARD. It definitely falls under the category of "mentally taxing." It's not like sitting in front of the idiot box and just soaking in whatever crap happens to be on at the time. Even when it looks like I'm just sitting there staring at the screen in a zombie-like state I'm actually turning the problem over in my head, trying to determine the best way to solve it.

As far as eating as something to do when one is "sitting one's ass" is concerned I personally don't eat just to pass the time. I would go so far as to say that this is true for most people. I eat when I'm hungry, and work (mental or physical) makes me hungry. Also I tend to think better after a reasonable meal (I avoid pasta, rice, or anything carb-heavy or I'll just want to sleep), and I've learned to recognize when my brain is not performing as well as it should due to hunger. Most of the time by the end of the day I'm close to mental exhaustion and my wife will be the first to tell you that I'm not fit for conversation until after dinner.

The bottom line here is that anyone who equates working at a computer all day and watching TV has obviously never had to do it for a living.

Re:Maybe it's just me.... (1)

Perf (14203) | more than 5 years ago | (#24911281)

The bottom line here is that anyone who equates working at a computer all day and watching TV has obviously never had to do it for a living.

GP is obviously a Pointy Haired Boss -- the "patriotic" type who outsources IT work.

BTW, there is more than one type of IT. Programming is generally more taxing than support. Although support has its moments.

Re:Maybe it's just me.... (1)

SirLurksAlot (1169039) | more than 5 years ago | (#24911371)

BTW, there is more than one type of IT. Programming is generally more taxing than support. Although support has its moments.

Oh yeah, I know "IT" is a pretty broad term. Honestly I had just woken up and, you know, I hadn't eaten yet ;-)

Alternative theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24908635)

So, they have given some _female_ students alternative some relaxation or complicated work, and then provide them with an unlimited buffet.

My personal guess would be that the students, having performed hard work, would allow themselves to eat more from the unlimited buffet.
They would probably feel they have earned it.

So THAT explains the average weight (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 5 years ago | (#24908669)

of an American Gladiators viewer. Its the show that really does make you think!

Never (1)

barocco (1168573) | more than 5 years ago | (#24908741)

Never attribute to malnutrition that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

So if I understand this right... (5, Funny)

ignavus (213578) | more than 5 years ago | (#24908777)

So if I understand this right and thinking people put on weight, then thoughtless people should lose weight.

I'll go around being rude to other people and when they complain, I will tell them it is my special thoughtless diet.

The good news is, I didn't have to think very hard to work this one out. I can feel those pounds coming off already!

Stress (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24908783)

Working in front of a computer may be causing a lot of stress, especially if your work is rushed because of deadlines. So you already don't have a lot of time to eat well, you're stressed out, and your job requires you to remain immobile for long periods of time. I'd be surprised if the kind of work you do has much to do with it.

5'9" (175cm) and 130lb (59kg)
I walk about a mile a day, but other than that no exercise. I eat a lot and work in front of a computer doing mentally challenging tasks--sometimes I actually get work done too.

Re:Stress (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24909291)

5'9" (175cm) and 130lb (59kg)

I hope you're a woman or under your 20s because otherwise you would be pretty emaciated-looking.

I'm not fat (1)

reboot246 (623534) | more than 5 years ago | (#24908811)

I'm a thinker!

Fat Chance (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24908845)

Sucpiciously convenient, that a bunch of guys who do nothing all day, but sit around thinking, suddenly has the perfect excuse to be fat, is it not?

Stand back... (0)

Inf0phreak (627499) | more than 5 years ago | (#24908877)

Stand back, I'm going to try SCIENCE! ... After dinner...

Yeah... (0, Troll)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 5 years ago | (#24908923)

... like, whatever. Fat asses.

Re:Yeah... (0, Troll)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 5 years ago | (#24908997)

Some fat ass modded me troll with quickness. Stressful comment, eh. Keep piling up, fat ass.

Re:Yeah... (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909229)

Damn, again? Oh well, it's your fat ass.

Thinking USA? (2, Funny)

forestbrooke (1171427) | more than 5 years ago | (#24908981)

So, FDA estimates that soon 40% of US will be thinking hard?! (http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/obesity/trend/maps/ )

Excuses excuses! (1)

TheJerbear79 (1316155) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909149)

Sweet! Now I have a new excuse for being pudgy AND taking that last donut!

Anecdotal evidence... (2, Interesting)

GrahamCox (741991) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909281)

I know then when I'm really working on challenging programming, I get hungry - very hungry. But when I'm just doing routine stuff that isn't all that taxing I don't. So that would tend to suggest that "hard thinking" requires more fuel. I snack a lot when I'm coding - calorie-wise it must be heading for the 3000-4000 a day mark and some of it's non-too healthy. Yeah, yeah, just another morbidly obese coder you may be thinking. Well, no. I weigh 70kg and always have and probably always will. No matter what I do my weight is a constant. At 6ft tall that makes me pretty skinny. I seem to have a gene for some sort of metabolic homoeostasis - if I eat a lot more, it just speeds up to compensate and vice versa, so my weight stays pinned at 70kg. I have no idea if that's really what's going on but my siblings are the same.

I'm quite skinny (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909407)

That's what sucks about being too smart, there's hardly anything that makes you think hard.

SHENANIGANS! (1)

Vertana (1094987) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909569)

Throw some hot pockets my way and I'm good. Despite the misconception of 'lazy' people working on computers... I don't think I've ever met an overweight IT.

Re:SHENANIGANS! (2, Funny)

ThePhilips (752041) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909809)

Since when IT became "knowledge based work"???

In our company IT is engaged in three major activities: spilling coffee on servers, checking cables and answering "NO" to all questions. None of that requires any "knowledge".

Re:SHENANIGANS! (2, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#24910923)

answering "NO" to all questions.

You do realize that IT encompasses more than just Dell 'technical' support, do you not?

math + programming = snacking (1)

mbius (890083) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909953)

I noticed myself doing this a few years ago. I feel it's not hunger so much as a craving for distraction. Like my brain saying a queue is full and needs to process. It happens when I'm thinking hard and don't want to be -- in a jam, not on a roll.

I've caught myself muttering and pacing with a bag of chips. There's a Pavlovian absurdity to it. Haven't managed "hear bell: prove lemma" yet.

It's not the sort of thing people can research, but it seems directly analogous to smoking cannabis and getting the munchies.

Depends on the person (2, Interesting)

Alomex (148003) | more than 5 years ago | (#24910229)

taxing mental effort appears to cause people to eat significantly more food, even though it doesn't burn many more calories than sitting around and relaxing.

For the average person mental tasks do not significantly increase the consumption of energy, however there is a correlation between IQ and amount of energy that can be brought to bear. Moreover, thinking dramatically increases the consumption of glucose by the brain, so feeling hungry after thinking might be a reasonable response from the body to request replenishment of basic sugars.

Simple test (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24910309)

This doesn't pass the smell test. While in the literature it has been repeatedly reported that thinking does not seem to increase the consumption of energy by the brain, all evidence points to the contrary.

First glucose consumption by the brain goes dramatically up and proportional to the intelligence of the person. Second, during critical low energy times brain function is "slowed down" by the body's autonomic response (low oxygen, low food, cold temperature). Third, simple body temperature readings reflect the increase of glucose consumption. In fact this technique is used to measure which parts of the brain deal with which specific inputs. Fourth, a good thinker will respond to a problem as if it were under physical attack, with a host of secondary responses such as starving the outer body of blood. These responses have a short term damaging impact on the body and can require nutrients to be repaired, which is why one feels physically tired after thinking.

Tiny study (2, Interesting)

francisstp (1137345) | more than 5 years ago | (#24910695)

Don't get too excited over this study. There were only 14 participants, all university students so not even slightly representative of the general population. Maybe for them doing heavy mental work was associated with stress more than it would for a cashier or a janitor, and relaxing was really uncommon. Some might have been there for the free buffet because they are too poor to afford real food, etc. With n = 14 there's just no meaningful conclusion you can reach.

Re:Tiny study (2, Interesting)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#24910955)

With n = 14 there's just no meaningful conclusion you can reach.

Wrong. You can state that "more research is needed". Then you write a new grant with n=20. In a decade or so, after a dozen papers, you might approach something like statistical significance. Then you can retire.

Of course... (1)

drsmall17 (1240792) | more than 5 years ago | (#24911027)

Of course. Haven't you ever played chess while eating lunch? You consume your food without realizing it, causing you to eat more. The mental challenge of chess causes you to think which in turn calls for more food.

Big_Fat_bullshit! (1)

V!NCENT (1105021) | more than 5 years ago | (#24911153)

If I am sitting behind my PC I sometimes do not smoke, drink and eat for 6 hours straight. It's not that I'm addicted to computers, but my brain is too occupied with a set of pixels that it forgets about everything else (hence why I am running all kinds of social apps on my pc).

Because I am not doing anything physically behind my pc my appetite isn't that large either.

If fat is such a big deal then do physical exercises (sport, skateboarding, jogging).

If health is also important than eat healthy instead of going to the [insert favorite junkfood restaurant here]...

Loosing weight by eating less is not going to work. It is better to eat much (preferably also healthy) stuff (replace you Coca Cola bottles with Coca Cola Zero or Pepsi max or whatever you like) and engage in physical demanding activities.

Diets do NOT work!!!

Re:Big_Fat_bullshit! (1)

omaha (41554) | more than 5 years ago | (#24911653)

Complete and total agreement about intake and exercise. Diets in general are pure b.s. In my opinion, the amount of processing food goes through is inversely related to it being healthy. If you want to change your diet focus on that.

Foods/drinks packaged and promoted as No Fat/Low Fat are some of the most unhealthy food ever. Drop the pop and pick up Tea. I prefer iced. Finally, mind your sodium intake. It will take 2-3 months to retrain your pallet. But as a society we consume dramatically too much sodium. If you doubt me, just keep track of the sodium in the food you eat and drink -- you will be shocked. More processing == more sodium.

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