If you find yourself easily distracted you need be careful – scientists have found that daydreaming could increase a person’s risk of obesity.
Apparently, those who get lost in their thoughts fail to recognise how much they’ve eaten, potentially resulting in them tucking into more food than they should.
Data on 38 children aged eight to 13, collected by the Enhanced Nathan Kline Institute – Rockland Sample, was analysed, with five of the children obese and six overweight. They were weighed and information about their eating habits was gathered, as well as brain scans being performed.
Three areas of the brain were identified, associated to eating habits and weight. The inferior parietal lobe is linked to inhibition and is capable of overriding an automatic response, like eating. The frontal pole is linked to impulsive behaviour, while the nucleus accumbens is focuses on the reward.
Looking at children who ate the most, the experiment found that the part of the brain which is linked to being impulsive was more important than the sector associated with inhibition. In contrast, kids who behaved in a way that kept them from food saw their area of the brain associated with inhibition play a stronger role than the impulsive side.
Researchers think the way to tackle this is to encourage children to practise mindfulness from a young age, with study co-author Dr Ronald Cowan, of Vanderbilt University, adding: “We think mindfulness could recalibrate the imbalance in the brain connections associated with childhood obesity.”
Study co-author, Dr Dr Kevin Niswender, added: “Adults, and especially children, are primed towards eating more. This is great from an evolutionary perspective – they need food to grow and survive.
“But in today’s world, full of readily available, highly advertised, energy dense foods, it is putting children at risk of obesity.”