Obesity is one of the leading problems in the western world. More than half of the population of age 18 and older in the US and some parts of Europe is overweight, and in spite of efforts to exercise and to eat healthy the battle against excess of fat often appears hopeless.
New diets and wonder pills surface at all times promising a dramatic weight loss in a short period of time. Nevertheless, success is generally short-lived, and the jojo effect often returns more pounds than were lost with the diet.
Sustainable success is promised only by the following two actions: Switching to a long term healthy, low calorie diet in combination with regular exercise. This is easier said than done: Our urge for sweets or fat is not driven by the necessity to get nourishment, but by the fact that with the consumption of such food compounds reach our brain that bind to and activate receptors responsible for feeling good. Consequently, such happy feelings are associated with food, and our brain demands more of this by stimulating our appetite for more food. An addictive behavior is developing, quite analogous to an addiction for nicotine or alcohol.
If you have switched from sugar containing lemonade to drinks containing artificial sweeteners you might know the following effect: In the beginning you can fool your brain with Cola light as a substitute for regular Coke. However, after a short time your brain can differentiate - despite the same taste - between a regular and a diet Coke since the latter cannot stimulate your "feeling good" receptors. Nevertheless, since we are consuming enough sugar anyhow, the development of good tasting artificial sweeteners like aspartame that gives drinks like Coca Cola light a real taste has been a major breakthrough to limit sugar consumption in our society.
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