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Latest Thing That Makes You Fat: Thinking. Well, Sorta.

Urgh, for both the photo and the article. Of course, the headline - which is sensationalist - isn't really what the study actually claims.

The research team, supervised by Dr Angelo Tremblay, measured the spontaneous food intake of 14 students after each of three tasks.

The first was relaxing in a sitting position, the second reading and summarizing a text, and finally completing a series of memory, attention, and vigilance tests on the computer.

After 45 minutes at each activity, participants were invited to eat as much as they wanted from a buffet. The researchers had already calculated that each session of intellectual work requires only three calories more than the rest period.

However, despite the low energy cost of mental work, the students spontaneously consumed 203 more calories after summarizing a text and 253 more calories after the computer tests.

This could be causing the so-called epidemic, but then again there are about 5,000 other things that could be. Just another oddball study that got press and gave someone an excuse to use a dehumanizing photo of a fat person's belly. [Thanks, M. Varner]

Hard Drive Dead - Back Soon! Really! | Abundia 2008

Dan Bassett September 21st, 2008 | Link | Whats annoying is the

Whats annoying is the intention of the study probably had nothing to do with weight loss. Well Im assuming that but surly it was not. The researchers must feel as frustrated as we do if after completing their study and wanting to prove a point about something else people start talking about weight loss.

richie79's picture
September 21st, 2008 | Link | Dan, according to the

Dan, according to the article it was the study's main author who suggested the link between mental activity and the 'obesity epidemic'. Maybe it started off as a project to research something completely unrelated, but let's face it, would the Telegraph even noticed it without the weight connection? Few academics nowadays would willingly eschew the publicity that accompanies linking something to fat.

But the conclusions drawn make no sense. Here I was all these years thinking fat people were meant to be stupid (sarcasm). Turns out thinking about stuff too deeply (the profits being generated through the diet-industrial complex, the opportunities for control by government and corporations presented by creating a false panic over fat perhaps?) is what makes us fat, so by that logic it's better not to question anything and stay skinny. Or something. Oh if only life were as black-and-white as one of these research projects.

One thing's for certain; given how little thought he obviously put into this there's very little danger of Mr. Chaput ending up fat any time soon.

"if you think fat people have no self-discipline, consider the fact that they haven’t killed you yet." - Miss Conduct, Boston Globe

Buffpuff's picture
September 21st, 2008 | Link | Ritchie, you took the words

Ritchie, you took the words right out of my mouth regarding the "fat people are stupid" meme! Guess that means all those sporting types and gym bunnies are really thick then? (Sarcasm)

sandii27 September 21st, 2008 | Link | Boring

i can't tell you how many times i've read headlines similar to these and panic has risen in my throat. WHAT ELSE will i have to give up in a quest to be what society claim is acceptable.

since giving up on diets and realising that i'm actually quite healthy and happy the way i am i just laugh at the even more absurd articles that actually make it to print.

nothing better to write about people??

MReap September 22nd, 2008 | Link | It does sort of help explain

It does sort of help explain those "freshman 15" Evil

bootness's picture
September 22nd, 2008 | Link | The idea I found interesting

The idea I found interesting was that using your brain could cause a drop in blood sugar. I've always maintained that since the brain runs on sugar, and I (so modestly) consider myself something of a thinker, I need to supplement my diet with sweets to support a high-maintenance machine. Of course I use the same excuse for eating too much salt, because when your neurons fire sodium "rushes in."

Really though, I've always thought that given the choice, I'd rather be smart and fat than skinny and stupid. My brain is fun. Hours of entertainment.

Kunoichi September 22nd, 2008 | Link | Hmmm... let me think. The

Hmmm... let me think.

The article doesn't mention the ages of the subjects, but I'll assume university/college or high school ages. In other words, quite young, possibly living on their own for the first time, and for the first time fully responsible for feeding and clothing themselves. If they're high school age, they're probably going through some major developmental changes, like growth spurts and puberty.

These fourteen students are then presented with a buffet table and told "eat as much as you like."

WTH did they think they would do? Turn down free food? Maybe they ate more because they're "starving students" and hadn't eaten a proper meal in who knows how long?

Or who knows what else. I could probably come up with a few more possible reasons, none of which have anything to do with being made to sit for 45 minutes, "thinking."

I wonder if the participants were paid for their time?

hatch_xanadu September 24th, 2008 | Link | Exactly, Kunoichi. And

Exactly, Kunoichi. And furthermore, the study didn't actually address fat at all . . . it just addressed eating. Who's to say some of the students didn't just burn those calories off? Or that perhaps the calories were . . . necessary? Or that the students didn't all have varying metabolisms (which they very likely did) and didn't all process the foods differently, not to mention choose varying kinds of food from the buffet based on their individual tastes? There's no follow-up study or any evidence at all that the foods the subjects ate during the study contributed to them being fat, or that they even are fat, or that if they are fat, it's because they ate a lot after "thinking". All we have here is another example of folks automatically associating eating with being fat -- and the presumption that readers are just naturally supposed to go along with the notion that Eating = Fat. If the point of the study is to examine causes of *being fat*, this is very, very bad science indeed. Hooray for funded research.

JennyLinsky September 27th, 2008 | Link | what a pile of stupid!

From the article:

"Mr Chaput added: 'Caloric overcompensation following intellectual work, combined with the fact we are less physically active when doing intellectual tasks, could contribute to the obesity epidemic currently observed in industrialised countries.

'This is a factor that should not be ignored, considering that more and more people hold jobs of an intellectual nature.'"

So...this can go one of two ways:

1. Fat people use their brains a lot.


2. Stop thinking and get to the gym and eat SlimFast! ZOMG!

Guess which interpretation your average Netizen will come away with.

DesertProse's picture
September 28th, 2008 | Link | So which is it?

Am I fat and stupid, or fat because I don't want to be stupid? I'm confused. I would like to point out that the headless fat person in the picture is not actually studying, and therefore is not an accurate representation of the vivid horror of fat people using their brains and thus fueling their unnatural hunger. But what do I know? I'm just fat...or stupid...or too stupid to know I'm fat...or whatever they have decided I am this week. Whatever, I have homework to do.

Bilt4Cmfrt's picture
September 30th, 2008 | Link | Well, of course. See, what

Well, of course. See, what we're not getting here is that the Inhuman Fatties (the ones we see in the media without heads like the one from this article) wander around absorbing any calories within an unspecified radius. Not having heads and being incapable of rational thought, they are unable to tell what's good for them and end up expending too few of those calories despite their wanderings, thus becoming fatty. . -er. Subhuman Fatties (The ones that DO have heads) spend way too much time sitting around thinking, which causes them to eat more Mcdonald's and, while it may or may not make them smarter, it obviously doesn't make them smart enough to know what's good for them so they also get fattyer. . . Fat, fat, FATTY -EPIDEMIC! OBESITY!! RAAAARRGH!!! *snort-pant-drool*


Can't wait to see what NEW study they decide to waste our money with. Idiots. Whatever.

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you.
Then you win.
- Mahatma Ghandi

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