Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Another China Tidbit

A final note about the Chinese study in the previous post: the overweight vegetable-eaters (read: wheat eaters) exercised more than their non-vegetable-eating, thin neighbors. So although their average calorie intake was a bit higher, their expenditure was as well. 

Although I speculated in the last post that affluent people might be eating more wheat and fresh vegetables, the data don't support that. Participants with the highest income level actually adhered to the wheat and vegetable-rich pattern the least, while low-income participants were most likely to eat this way.

Interestingly, education showed a (weaker) trend in the opposite direction. More educated participants were more likely to eat the wheat-vegetable pattern, while the opposite was true of less educated participants. Thus, it looks like wheat makes people more educated. Just kidding, that's exactly the logic we have to avoid when interpreting this type of study!


Peter said...


You're joking but there are peptides in wheat which may well influence dopamine receptors... I'm not really serious about this but your comment has taken me back to think about why people eat stuff that makes them feel cr*p and get addicted to it. Maybe there really is a short term trade off of enhanced brain function at the cost of multisystem damage, including brain injury....... About as useful in the long term as a cocaine habit but there do appear to a subgroup of people who find cocaine useful in the short term (never tried personally).


Stephan Guyenet said...

Hi Peter,

Maybe so. People do tend to get addicted to things that make them feel good, after all. Is there really convincing in vivo evidence of the dopamine receptor thing?

Lee said...

In 1991, Dr Newbold wrote about food addictions and weight gain in Dr. Newbold's Type A Type B Weight Loss Book.
He considered rib steaks the least problematic food and apparently ate this, almost exclusively, himself. Given that he was born in 1921, I wonder if he is still around.

Anonymous said...

My first thought on this is that it could be due to it being wheat flour as opposed to plain wheat. I'm not sure how they define the category in the study, but it's a much simpler case to make saying the high glycemic index of wheat flour is the driving force here.

Stephan Guyenet said...


Thanks. I couldn't find any information about it on the internet. What foods did he consider to be addictive?


White rice and white bread have a similar glycemic index and glycemic load so I doubt that explains the weight gain. Who knows what they would have been like if they were eating soaked, cooked wheat berries.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I shouldn't have used the term "high-glycemic", but you could make a case that rice provides more satiety than white bread under certain conditions. Different kinds of rice have different satiety:

Also, depending on how much water is cooked in with the rice will also affect satiety.

I'm just much more inclined to point the finger at flour and sugar, given how they've made a mess of America.

Stephan Guyenet said...


Interesting link. I wonder whether wheat could affect satiety by messing with the small intestine's release of hormones during digestion. The small intestine releases some two dozen hormones that affect satiety and insulin release/sensitivity. Given wheat's ability to damage the small intestine (at least in some people), it makes me wonder.

Lee said...


Newbold thought (thinks?) that all foods are addictive for certain people. Most problematic are the new foods. By new, he means everything other than fish, fowl, meat, fruit & veg. Top of his hit list, are wheat and milk. One exception is butter.

He considered this a highly personal issue, dependent on each individual's biochemistry. It was not only foods that concerned him, but all the chemicals we are exposed to now, including things like perfume and cleaning chemicals.

He thought that addiction and intolerance went hand in hand, causing most diseases now prevalent. He wrote in vague terms about individual's biochemical pathways being unable to cope with various chemicals. He did not go looking for specific food chemicals though, like Emma.


Stephan Guyenet said...

Thanks Lee, that's interesting. I've heard that people sometimes love the foods they're allergic to. Do you know if there are data to back that up?

I like how he makes an exception for butter, I'll stand by that!

Anonymous said...

OK it's a rat study and they blame fats while being a tad coy about the content of the different diets they used, but there's probably some truth behind this - a circuit which says "eat while the food is there" has obvious evolutionary advantages

Less so of course when the nutritional content of the food is crap