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chrisdh79 OP t1_j9znwhq wrote

From the article: New research provides evidence that people who grew up in an unstable environment are more susceptible to food addiction. The findings, published in the journal Appetite, indicate that unpredictability in one’s earlier stages of life is associated with maladaptive patterns of food intake.

Food addiction is a term used to describe a problematic pattern of food intake characterized by a lack of control, unsuccessful attempts to eat less, and continuing to overeat despite negative consequences.

“Considering the deleterious consequences of food addiction (e.g., obesity and depression), the risk factors leading to adults’ food addiction warrant examination,” said study author Hope Zhou, a PhD student at the University of Macau.

“Understanding the psychological mechanism of food addiction from the perspective of life history may help evaluate and decrease one’s risks for food addiction. These results may yield a theoretical framework for the development of food addiction and practical insights for future food addiction intervention programs.”

The new study was based on life history theory, which seeks to explain how organisms allocate resources over their lifetime in order to maximize their reproductive success. The theory holds that one’s early life environment shapes internal strategies of how to allocate energy and resources.


pete_68 t1_j9zppf4 wrote

My wife and I are currently going through training to become foster parents and there's a lot about food insecurity and other food issues. It's honestly terribly depressing. And thinking about it, I can't think of a single obese person that I know well who had a decent home life growing up, so this seems to track with my anecdotal experience.


tyler1128 t1_ja33sxu wrote

If only having children required training. Serious props to you for going the adoption route, it's important and undervalues.

EDIT: sorry, I misinterpreted it a bit. Still big props on doing foster parenthood.


pete_68 t1_ja34wfm wrote

Thanks. It's terrifying and we're not 100% sure we're going to be able to do it. We're going to give it a shot, though. And if it works out, it works out and if it doesn't, we'll find some other way to help out.

As part of this process, we've spoken to a lot of foster families and found that they need a lot of support in other ways because there's just so much involved in fostering over taking care of a biological child. There are usually additional doctors appointments, therapists (psychological, occupational, etc), visitation with biological parents, etc.

They need help running errands, making meals, finding clothes, etc. So if we find that fostering's just not meant for us, we'll try to help out in those areas. I love to cook, so cooking up lots of good meals that can be frozen and reheated and in the oven, fresh bread, etc, are things I'd love doing. We could both help with the other things as well.

Fostering is hard. Fortunately, this training gives very realistic expectations because when we first started, my wife, I think, kind of idealized it and this has really kind of opened her eyes as to how hard it is.


tyler1128 t1_ja359tz wrote

It is absolutely hard. As a gay male, I've probably seen more of it than the average person, but it's so damn important.


momminhard t1_ja3h0q6 wrote

If only having children came with support


tyler1128 t1_ja3hfjz wrote

I really wish they did to a level that mattered. I don't even like kids nor do I want children of any capacity, but if you can't give them a good life, don't have them. Obviously I'm also an advocate of birth control. Children are expensive, and any prospective parent should understand that and have a plan to deal with the extra cost.


momminhard t1_ja3jqyx wrote

There used to be orphanages that took in kids that the parents couldn't support with the goal of the parents getting back on their feet and then getting their kids back. Foster care is a little like this but the kids are taken from their parents not given to the foster system. There's much more shame associated with it. Dropping your kid of at the orphanage was a last resort. You knew they wouldn't get the love and attention they need but they wouldn't die of starvation or exposure.


SerialStateLineXer t1_ja2xnqq wrote

It's important to note here that twin studies have found obesity to be very strongly heritable with minimal contribution from shared environment.

Since this study used mediation analysis, which can't be used to demonstrate causality, we should be skeptical of causal claims made by the authors.


muzukashidesuyo t1_ja30apj wrote

Are you suggesting obesity is just genetics? If so, why have obesity rates skyrocketed since the 90s/early 00s?


KuriousKhemicals t1_ja3792f wrote

What heritability actually shows is percent of variance is accounted for by genetics/inborn factors. How much variance there is can be environmental - that is, environment that is shared among all individuals in the study population, not just family environment. E.g. if weight was 100% heritable then genetic profile A would be 20th percentile and genetic profile B would be 90th percentile no matter what, but in 1920 that might have meant 110 pounds and 200 pounds, whereas today it might mean 130 pounds and 500 pounds. The actual weight of an individual still cannot be determined only by genetics.

Height is a good example to understand the counterintuitive math of heritability: it has become much more heritable over time because it's much more rare for people to experience malnutrition that impedes them from reaching their maximum genetic potential. The genetic pool hasn't changed significantly, and it has become more "genetically determined," but the increase in average height or the increase of height in subsequent generations of a family is very much due to environment.


muzukashidesuyo t1_ja3b495 wrote

Yes, basically genetics loads the gun, environment pulls the trigger. But the comment I responded to made it sound like genetics was the determining factor.


SerialStateLineXer t1_ja6vkwg wrote

What the other commenter said. Environment has made recent generations fatter than older generations, and makes people in rich countries fatter than people in poor countries, but in wealthy countries, within the current generation, genetics explains most of the variance in obesity, while upbringing explains very little.

This paper is based on a sample in Macao, and I don't know of any twin studies that were conducted in Macao specifically, so it's possible that they've found a causal factor that's peculiar to Macao or other wealthy East Asian countries. But we should be skeptical of this as a general causal explanation for obesity, given that it's contradicted by twin studies.

Edit: Note that the heritability of obesity doesn't mean that different people with the same lifestyle end up with wildly different BMIs because of genetics. Behavioral traits are also strongly heritable, and it's likely that much of the genetic contribution to obesity is mediated by genetic influences on lifestyle choices, rather than by genetic influences on metabolism.


Ilookbetterthanyou t1_ja1w7jl wrote

They needed research for this? Seems to me it's self-evident that people who grow up in turmoil suffer the effects later in life. Also seems self-evident that food, being that it's the one thing young people have some control over, is the main effect later in life.


SilverMedal4Life t1_ja26evf wrote

You'd think, but there are a lot of people out there who think that people who can't stop eating are simply gluttons with weak willpower and a lack of self-control.

Research like this helps to disprove it and guide both policy and treatment for people who have disordered eating - which is almost certainly more than half of Americans, given that 3/4ths of Americans are overweight or obese.