There's No Explaining Some Behavior - Yet

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Here is an article that recently caught my eye: "Long-term habituation to food in obese and non-obese women" by Leonard Epstein, et al., in the August American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. It made me think about the advice we usually give to consumers. "Eat a well-balanced diet, including a variety of foods" is usually part of the message.


Epstein's study gives us reason to ponder this automatic response. The authors found that women, whether in the study's obese or its non-obese group, ate more food when they were given a variety of foods every day. Subjects in both groups who were fed the same macaroni and cheese every day for weeks, however, decreased their intake and consumed fewer calories. This finding brought back memories of the all-banana or all-hot dog or all-ice cream diets that surface from year to year with a promise to cure obesity. Of course, it's not the particular food that's making a difference - but does the lack of variety play a role?

Here is what this study and the accompanying commentary say to me and what I believe nutrition professionals should be thinking about as they try to help consumers adopt healthy eating patterns and/or lose weight:

·         Keep an open mind to all (basically sound) approaches. What works for one person may not work for another. Find out what the consumer wants and build around that foundation. Innovate!

·         Food-related behavior is very complex. It's going to take a long time to unravel the brain chemistry involved. Understanding behavior modification strategies is becoming increasingly important. Get familiar with this research and share your views.

·          Take a leadership position in the profession by developing your expertise in behavior and food intake. Determine how your work on the front lines with consumers can move the field forward.

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About This Blog

I launched Nutrition Viewpoint to provide nutrition professionals, health care providers, and food and beverage marketers with a forum for examining issues, and trends that affect how we influence food and nutrition policies and how food and nutrition policies influence us. The thoughts and opinions I express in this blog are strictly my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of my clients. Readers are invited to comment on my postings, and I hope that we can engage in a lively conversation. From time to time, Nutrition Viewpoint will also feature guest bloggers. Because of my keen interest in women's nutritional health, I have devoted a special section of this blog to women's issues.

  • Finn/Parks and Associates
  • Fleishman-Hillard
  • American Council for Fitness and Nutrition

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About Me

Susan Finn

I am a registered dietitian who has spent 30+ years as a nutrition communicator - interpreting the science of nutrition into practical applications for consumers, health professionals, and the food and beverage industry. I am a principal in the nutrition policy and positioning consultancy Finn/Parks & Associates. I currently serve as a senior advisor to Fleishman-Hillard International Communications and am also the CEO and president of the American Council for Fitness & Nutrition. I am a past president of The American Dietetic Association (ADA), the world's largest organization of nutrition experts, and am immediate past chair of the ADA Foundation. While I feel passionately about the importance of nutrition for people of all ages, I am particularly interested in women's nutritional health. Throughout my career, I have concentrated on women's unique nutritional needs and their critical role as gatekeepers for family health.

See Susan Finns complete bio.

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