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Science

Canadian Researchers Say Hard Thinking Leads To Big Meals 150

Posted by timothy
from the we-only-use-10-percent-of-our-stomach dept.
Anti-Globalism writes with an excerpt from a story at Ars Technica, according to which "a preliminary study from a group of researchers in Quebec suggest that working on a computer may have an additional impact on our waistlines: taxing mental effort appears to cause people to eat significantly more food, even though it doesn't burn many more calories than sitting around and relaxing. The publication, published in a journal called Psychosomatic Medicine, arose from a pilot study that the researchers were performing in order to determine whether a potential connection between mental effort and eating was worth following up on."
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Canadian Researchers Say Hard Thinking Leads To Big Meals

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  • Vindication (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatmanNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday September 07, 2008 @04:37AM (#24908449) Homepage Journal

    First to clear up a small matter. Merely reading the summary is somewhat misleading. While the brain's actual energy usage stays consistent, the study shows that blood sugar and insulin levels varied radically during the tests. Furthermore, the subjects in the tests showed marked signs of stress, including heightened levels of cortisol in their bloodstream. Here's the relevant section:

    The authors provide two potential explanations for their findings, both of which may be accurate to varying degrees. The first involves sugar metabolism. The brain is especially reliant on glucose, and the blood tests revealed that both glucose and insulin levels changed during the KBW tasks, while they gently sloped off during the relaxation. The differences weren't consistent--the two KBW tasks sent the levels in opposite directions--but the instability of the levels was large for both of them. The authors suggest that the eating may simply be an attempt to give the body the chance to stabilize blood glucose.

    Their other suggestion is that people find KBW stressful. Both the survey results and blood levels of cortisol (a hormone associated with stress) indicated that the KBW tasks took a mental toll. High stress has been associated with increased eating in a variety of contexts, so the upped food intake in this study may simply reflect that.

    What's particularly interesting about these results is that two things have been known for a while now. The first is that the brain's energy usage is relatively constant regardless of the task. However, it has also been clear that severe mental activity can result in signs of fatigue, exhaustion, and greater energy consumption. I personally can attest to these symptoms after several extremely challenging programming tasks. (Ever tried cobbling together an emergency replacement JSP engine inside 3 hours? That was... interesting.) Yet this is simply at odds with the scientific evidence on hand.

    This study finally offers evidence to break the impasse. It is the first evidence to clearly show that there is a physiological and not merely a psychological effect from extreme mental work. I look forward to hearing the results of future studies. Perhaps a more effective diet or lifestyle can be devised to make knowledge workers more effective.

    • Re:Vindication (Score:5, Insightful)

      by blahplusplus (757119) * on Sunday September 07, 2008 @04:59AM (#24908497)

      Sedentary work + stress = overeating, who would have thunk it?

      The real problem is the desire for money outweighs (pardon the pun) the desire for a sane society, i.e. exercise, etc. Having a certain amount of hours off a week for exercise/relaxation and whatnot, I was just reading something about how americans have near the least vacaton time a year compared to other industrialized nations.

      I'm not surprised given the nature of our stupidity when it comes to taking care of ourselves, money first, health later.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Sedentary work + stress = overeating, who would have thunk it?

        The real problem is the desire for money outweighs (pardon the pun) the desire for a sane society, i.e. exercise, etc. Having a certain amount of hours off a week for exercise/relaxation and whatnot, I was just reading something about how americans have near the least vacaton time a year compared to other industrialized nations.

        I'm not surprised given the nature of our stupidity when it comes to taking care of ourselves, money first, health later.

        when your health depends on your ability to make money (most other industrialized and "civilized" nations have affordable health care, you kinda get used to working yourself to death to make sure you have enough to pay personal premiums, or to make sure your employer doesn't terminate you, or to advance within a company because leaving in search of a better position means lacking healthcare for the interim.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by JamesTRexx (675890)
        Although I don't disagree with the desire for money being a real problem, it has nothing to do with the study.
        Whether it's one day, or 5 days in the week, when I'm at work solving whatever problems show up on network/server/client side, I feel more hungry and eat something several times a day.
        I'm much less hungry when I can relax during the day and don't have to sort out a chaos. In the past 3 weeks vacation I've eaten mostly 1 or 2 times a day and lost about 5 kgs. And I'm definitely eating a lot more he
        • by mpe (36238)
          Whether it's one day, or 5 days in the week, when I'm at work solving whatever problems show up on network/server/client side, I feel more hungry and eat something several times a day. I'm much less hungry when I can relax during the day and don't have to sort out a chaos. In the past 3 weeks vacation I've eaten mostly 1 or 2 times a day and lost about 5 kgs. And I'm definitely eating a lot more healthy at work than in these weeks. I've also been a lot less active so that's no excuse either.

          Or maybe curre
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Stickerboy (61554)

            >Or maybe current ideas about "healthy eating" are incorrect in some ways.

            Probably not... the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet [nih.gov] which forms the basis of current National Institutes of Health dietary guidelines has been shown to lower blood pressure, cut the risk of having a stroke by 18% and the risk of a heart attack by 24% over a period of 24 years.

            The diet consists of lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and up to 2 servings of meat a day; dairy should be low-fat or non-fat. In

            • by MrKaos (858439)

              The diet consists of lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and up to 2 servings of meat a day; dairy should be low-fat or non-fat. In other words, lots of vitamins, fiber, and complex carbs. Moderate protein content, low in fat and sodium.

              That's basically my diet, I eat loads of fruit though about 6-10 peices a day. I was trying to work out why I crave sweet stuff like fruit all the time, now I know why. I avoid sugar, salt and give processed food a big miss. I like to work out because there is nothing

      • by mh1997 (1065630)

        The real problem is the desire for money outweighs (pardon the pun) the desire for a sane society, i.e. exercise, etc. Having a certain amount of hours off a week for exercise/relaxation and whatnot, I was just reading something about how americans have near the least vacaton time a year compared to other industrialized nations.

        Then how do you explain the study "Unemployment, cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption and body weight in young British men" by SCOTT M. MONTGOMERY1, DEREK G. COOK2, MEL J. BART

        • by vertinox (846076)

          Then how do you explain the study "Unemployment, cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption and body weight in young British men" by SCOTT M. MONTGOMERY1, DEREK G. COOK2, MEL J. BARTLEY3 and MICHAEL E.J. WADSWORTH3? They found when british men become unemployed they get fat. Seems to me they have plenty of time to exercise.

          Maybe they are depressed and that working isn't so stressful over there. I have something anecdotal. Even though I myself haven't had any adverse effects to my own health, I do work in a very

      • Auto financing, credit card bills etc.

        Oh wait...

        A debt based monetary system may have an adverse effect on those living within it?

         

        • by vertinox (846076)

          A debt based monetary system may have an adverse effect on those living within it?

          The other day I was looking for investment opportunities and came across Prosper.com [prosper.com] which is a P2P lending company which you give to micro invest in people's loans. Reading some of the stories of why these people need loans started to make me laugh and then start to die inside a little bit after realizing that America is full of these people who just don't know how to deal with financial responsibility. One guy on there was a

          • One guy on there was asking for a $5,000 loan in order to buy stocks. That's the most retarded thing I can think of that you can do with a loan besides go to Las Vegas with it.

            Sigh...it is very tiresome to hear the same wrong headed myths about investment == gambling that have been circulating for years and gaining currency among the younger generations. Although it is possible to approach investment as a form of gambling, doing no research and simply purchasing shares or options in a randomly selected entity for example, most people that I know who actually do invest their money do not approach investing in that way. The investing == gambling argument is most frequently mentione

            • by vertinox (846076)

              Sigh...it is very tiresome to hear the same wrong headed myths about investment == gambling that have been circulating for years and gaining currency among the younger generations.

              While I don't believe gambling is equal to investing either, I just had the impression that this particular person [prosper.com] was going to blow it all on penny stocks or into a risky businesses he had no good knowledge off. Secondly which I should have explained, he was getting a three year loan at 24% which is pushing it real hard if he was

            • by Belial6 (794905)
              The stock market certainly is gambling. It is just a game that has historically had an average payout over 100%. It is always disheartening when I hear people claiming that the stock market isn't gambling. It is the same feeling I got when people would tell me that buying investment housing wasn't gambling. Saying that good investors do their research before buying stock certainly does not change whether stocks are a gamble or not. EVERY decent blackjack player does their research on every hand. They
              • I probably shouldn't, but I will bite:

                Suppose that I make you a loan so that you can start a basket weaving business and the business profits and you pay back the loan with interest. Is that gambling? Certainly not. You needed money to get started producing goods which added to the total amount of value produced by the economy. Now what if instead of asking for the principle to be repaid with interest at a future time I asked instead for a share of the ownership of the basket weaving business (with a propor

                • by Belial6 (794905)
                  You seem to be confused about how the stock market works, and what causes a stock to have value. Your description of the stock market is the naive description given to school children. Even then, Yes, if you give me money to start a business in hopes of getting more money back, you are gambling. Many people have lost money that way, just as many have lost money playing blackjack. In fact Casino's have had to change the rules of blackjack because a good player could consistently make money playing single
                  • You seem to be confused about how the stock market works

                    Not really, I was simply trying to strip out all extraneous details from the discussion. You obviously aren't going to be convinced by me or probably anyone else that the stock market is not gambling. So be it, but let me ask you this: what exactly are you planning to do with any wealth (assuming that you believe that it is possible to accumulate wealth, since you also seem to doubt the existence of economic growth and the traditional definition(s) of wealth) that you manage to save? If you don't trust the

                    • but investments distinguish themselves, even though they also involve risk of loss, due to the possibility that they can create new wealth which indirectly improves the lives of everyone living in that economy (quality of life at least in a material sense is roughly proportional to the amount of goods and services produced per person in an economy). Those facts are really not disputable, almost every economist that you could find anywhere would be substantially in agreement with those statements.

                      Shenanigans!

                      "Stocks" is not a synonym for investment.

                      If I buy shares at an initial offering, I am "investing" in the company. This has the opportunity of creating new wealth (if such a thing is truly possible).

                      If I buy shares on the stock market, this money does not go into the company. It does not alter the material state of the company or its bank balance.

                      If I do not alter the material state of the company, I cannot be creating anything .

                      HAL.

                • I shouldn't bite either, but here goes.

                  What's your gamble of choice? In my family it was always horses.

                  Suppose that I make you a loan so that you can start a basket weaving business and the business profits and you pay back the loan with interest. Is that gambling? Certainly not.

                  In this case, you are the stable owner, not the punter, so of course it's not gambling.

                  When my grandpa wanted to put a bet on, he would study the form, check the weather reports and add in a pinch of "hunch". That was gambling.

                  When you trade in stocks (assuming you're a small investor and that you don't buy in at IPO) you are not making any material change to the business -- you are not in control. You're

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      two things have been known for a while now. The first is that the brain's energy usage is relatively constant regardless of the task. However, it has also been clear that severe mental activity can result in... greater energy consumption.

      So you're saying we've known "A" but also "NOT A".

      What?!

      I read the article but it says that people who stress out thinking more eat more. Okay, how does that "break the impasse" described above?

      I happen to believe that thinking hard- programming- writing- puzzle-solving fo

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Thiez (1281866)

        > I happen to believe that thinking hard- programming- writing- puzzle-solving for hours on end burns way more energy as opposed to sitting on your ass watching a sitcom. It just has to, right?

        Depends. Maybe the difference in energy-consumption between a programming brain and a sitcom-watching brain is very small, or even insignificant. Note that while you may not feel like you're thinking much while watching that sitcom, your brain is doing all kinds of (difficult) stuff like facial recognition and spee

      • by mpe (36238)
        I happen to believe that thinking hard- programming- writing- puzzle-solving for hours on end burns way more energy as opposed to sitting on your ass watching a sitcom. It just has to, right? Yeah it probably also involves some stress which may make you hungrier, although sometimes focused thought promotes meal-skipping when you get in that zone and lose track of time and thus skip meals...

        Or it could be that rather than "energy" what is being consumed are specific chemicals. If the food you are eating is
    • by Venik (915777) on Sunday September 07, 2008 @05:38AM (#24908609)
      Perhaps this also explains my lack of appetite :)
    • I propose a third explanation. When you are thinking hard, you are exhausting neurotransmitters at a greater rate, even if you are not using more energy. Several of these require sodium to produce, which needs therefore to be consumed from food. I find that low fat crisps or rice crackers are an excellent accompaniment to thinking hard about something - this gets rid of the hunger very quickly without providing much other than salt. In contrast, high-sugar foods seem to have little effect on reducing t
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mpe (36238)
        When you are thinking hard, you are exhausting neurotransmitters at a greater rate, even if you are not using more energy. Several of these require sodium to produce, which needs therefore to be consumed from food. I find that low fat crisps or rice crackers are an excellent accompaniment to thinking hard about something - this gets rid of the hunger very quickly without providing much other than salt.

        Remember it's currently fashionably to regard sodium as "bad". With KCl or even more exotic salts being u
    • by D4C5CE (578304)

      However, it has also been clear that severe mental activity can result in signs of fatigue, exhaustion, and greater energy consumption. [...] It is the first evidence to clearly show that there is a physiological and not merely a psychological effect from extreme mental work. I look forward to hearing the results of future studies. Perhaps a more effective diet or lifestyle can be devised to make knowledge workers more effective.

      On the other hand, putting only low-cal food in reach of course, it should be tested whether an unforeseen weight loss program might be "if you can't make them exercise, make them think!"
      E.g. whether one will become less of a couch potato if a games console with some sort of "brain trainer" is added to the TV...

    • Ever tried cobbling together an emergency replacement JSP engine inside 3 hours?

      I cannot imagine the circumstances. Perhaps you could elaborate on why it was necessary to reinvent the wheel in that particular case?

      • Primarily because the existing one was broken. But it only showed up broken under a load. Which meant that it didn't show up until testing until a few days before deployment. Worse yet, it's not like we could replace the server at the last minute as we were already invested in the vendor's extensions. (Something which I was a vocal opponent of.)

        We contacted the vendor and were promised an emergency patch. The patch arrived the day of the deployment. Testing began... and failed. The patch didn't work. But if

        • An argument for Open Source if ever there was one, but thanks for taking the time to explain.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Ksisanth (915235)
      As a type 1 diabetic I've long known that mental exercise is just as effective as moderate physical exercise in reducing my daily insulin requirements and driving down glucose levels, but I've never noticed any later spikes that would be expected with increased cortisol.
    • by TheLink (130905)

      You use more energy if you're learning something.

      I got it from google :)

      http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=381608 [google.com]

      Too lazy to use more energy looking for better answers ;).

    • Ever tried cobbling together an emergency replacement JSP engine inside 3 hours?

      What happened, your old one throw a rod?

      On a related note, I recently determined that I could stuff an entire development system (VMware image with all tools, source, and test data) onto a USB stick. Given our ability to develop using only OSS tools and environments, we can include one of these sticks as part of our release media. That way, if an installation or upgrade goes pear-shaped because of some client quirkiness (like "Oh, BTW we have a new corporate policy: all applications must log all error and

    • by steelfood (895457)

      Perhaps the maximum amount of energy the brain uses when thinking doesn't increase, but perhaps people who are required to think more keep up that level of energy consumption for longer periods of time, while people who spend their time not thinking only sporadically use that level of energy.

      It's anecdotal, but I know that when I am glucose-deprived, I can only do quick bursts of serous thinking activity before my mind goes to mush again, while when I'm fully fueled, I can and often do sustain longer though

  • I am an exception (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Slur (61510) on Sunday September 07, 2008 @04:49AM (#24908477) Homepage Journal

    Long hours computing causes me to forget food... and sleep... and water... and stretching... but interestingly, not sex! Perhaps there's a study I could take part in?

    On the other hand, I'm a vegan, so maybe I'm immune. I don't ever crave cheese or animal fats, having not eaten any of either for many years.

    • by EdZ (755139) on Sunday September 07, 2008 @04:59AM (#24908499)
      I eat mainly meat-based meals ("Vegetables? that's not food, that's what food EATS!"), but I can honestly say I've never craved animal fats.
    • by the_womble (580291) on Sunday September 07, 2008 @05:03AM (#24908517) Homepage Journal

      Long hours computing causes me to forget food... and sleep... and water... and stretching... but interestingly, not sex!

      1. So at least you get some exercise
      2. Are your long hours computing surfing for porn?
    • by thhamm (764787) on Sunday September 07, 2008 @05:16AM (#24908557)
      On the other hand, I'm a vegan, so maybe I'm immune.

      I'm a level 5 vegan [urbandictionary.com] -- I won't eat anything that casts a shadow!
      • by Dannkape (1195229)

        I'm a level 5 vegan [urbandictionary.com] -- I won't eat anything that casts a shadow!

        Time to start a farm in Antarctica during the winter, or in a dark cellar.

      • by n dot l (1099033)

        I won't eat anything that casts a shadow!

        What the fuck do you eat then? Vampiric lettuce?!

    • Does lack of sleep actually energize you? Makes you more lucid with a hit on judgement? The less you eat, the more energy you have? Have you been very sad more than 3 times in the last year? Be very careful, and if you find yourself running down the street naked as the Son of God, try Lithium or any of the new mood stablisers.

    • Re:I am an exception (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TeknoHog (164938) on Sunday September 07, 2008 @06:05AM (#24908685) Homepage Journal
      Me too... I don't think we are unique snowflakes here. The traditional geek stereotype for decades has been skin and bones, with the fat pizza-and-coke eating kind a relatively new phenomenon.
      • by conner_bw (120497)

        Same here. I eat a ridiculous amount of food, but am disproportionally skinny.

        Basically, if geeking out requires brainpower which requires food, a well adjusted metabolism burns what you need..That's the whole point of food, it's either being used or being stored. This study only seems to validate this, not justify why people are fat?

        Diet, and a bit of exercise too, of course. A human can't cruise through life a junk eaingt sloth without severe health problems, obesity being one of many.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Really? Have you ever seen portraits of Ben Franklin? Now, _there_ is an archetypal geek. The man _invented_ public libraries, and bi-focal glasses for us older geeks.
      • Re:I am an exception (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Onan (25162) on Sunday September 07, 2008 @02:05PM (#24912011)

        The traditional geek stereotype for decades has been skin and bones, with the fat pizza-and-coke eating kind a relatively new phenomenon.

        That's because being moderately fat used to be a healthy and attractive trait. So the geek stereotype was the opposite of that: the scrawny weakling.

        These days being thin is suddenly fashionable, so the stereotype of the geek changed to be the converse of the new desirable trait.

        Neither of these has anything to do with actual changes in geeks' or non-geeks' bodies. Just the whims of fashion.

        • by steelfood (895457)

          Only if you're a woman. You're still expected to be wide if you're a man, just above the waist instead of at it.

  • perhaps (Score:4, Interesting)

    by n3tcat (664243) on Sunday September 07, 2008 @04:53AM (#24908481) Homepage
    ... the body thinks that due to the mental taxation, that the overall body has been taxed in the same way, and therefore is tricked into expecting that the body will require food. maybe when the body exercises or performs physically intensive tasks, it creates the same signals in the brain that thinking hard does. I didn't have time to RTFA so maybe they said that already.
    • by irtza (893217)
      come now, you had time to RTFA, but you didn't want to. Now, I am not making any accusations because I too "didn't have time" to RTFA, but apparently we both have time to post. You know, posting first def gives more chances for glory. If yours was an already stated thought then hey, you didn't read thearticle, but if you are right... well then. insight and more importantly, insight without help. of course, when you have nothing, or don't feel like putting forth anything, you can always go for funny. I
  • Weight a minute! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Wowsers (1151731) on Sunday September 07, 2008 @04:59AM (#24908501) Journal

    I am a _little_ from ideal weight because sometimes coding is mentally exhaustive that I don't feel like doing exercise. However, when stuck into a particular computer task which I want to get out of the way, I don't feel like eating and don't miss food, just need to have a (non soft drink) drink.

  • That, and setting on your ass all day.
  • consistent (Score:5, Interesting)

    by leomekenkamp (566309) on Sunday September 07, 2008 @05:03AM (#24908515)

    Seems consistent with what I found happened to my body when I changed my eating habits. I now eat only fruit in the morning and after that I eat bread, but only when I feel a bit hungry. As soon as the hunger is over I stop eating. I do not get my 3 meals a day, it is more like 5 or 6 very small meals and one regular one for diner. I now fit the same jeans as 19 years ago (501, 31" / 34") and I feel better during the day; no more cravings.

    I have got a hunch that eating small meals keeps one's insulin and glucose levels more constant than eating big meals.

    • I seem to recall a study somewhere that confirmed the effectiveness of your method. I shall endeavor to find it...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by StarfishOne (756076)

      "I have got a hunch that eating small meals keeps one's insulin and glucose levels more constant than eating big meals."

      Not to state that you have it, but it sounds like the eating pattern (many small vs. fewer big meals) is fairly similar to what is recommended for people who have hypoglycemia.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Kirkoff (143587)

        That diet is actually the eating pattern that doctors recommend to most patients in general if they can possibly do it. By eating many small meals, you will generally eat the same amount of calories (give or take) but your metabolism will be much higher. If you eat 20% more calories with that kind of diet, you will probably still lose weight.

        It is just hard to get in to the habit without over eating.

    • 19 year old jeans are now called "vintage" and wearing old stuff is stylish. Well played, sir.

  • I always knew I was brighter than everybody else. Now my love of between-meal snacks is explained, as well. Truly, this is a banner day in Canadian research!

    If only they could somehow tie in above-average masculine endowment (if you get my drift), good looks and, of course, modest demeanor, my presence on Earth would finally be explained.

    I await the expected shower of acclaim with my usual blend of aplomb and unpretentious good grace. And appropriate willingness to seek cover from a shower of more t

  • by bugeaterr (836984) on Sunday September 07, 2008 @05:37AM (#24908607)

    "I think, therefore I'm fat."

    And whenever I'm at a restaurant, I order a la Descartes.

  • I knew it (Score:5, Funny)

    by dancingmad (128588) on Sunday September 07, 2008 @05:40AM (#24908615)

    I'm not fat, I'm just smart.

  • of an American Gladiators viewer. Its the show that really does make you think!
  • Never attribute to malnutrition that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.
  • by ignavus (213578) on Sunday September 07, 2008 @06:38AM (#24908777)

    So if I understand this right and thinking people put on weight, then thoughtless people should lose weight.

    I'll go around being rude to other people and when they complain, I will tell them it is my special thoughtless diet.

    The good news is, I didn't have to think very hard to work this one out. I can feel those pounds coming off already!

  • I'm a thinker!
  • Stand back, I'm going to try SCIENCE! ... After dinner...
  • Yeah... (Score:1, Troll)

    by oldhack (1037484)
    ... like, whatever. Fat asses.
  • So, FDA estimates that soon 40% of US will be thinking hard?! (http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/obesity/trend/maps/ )
  • by GrahamCox (741991) on Sunday September 07, 2008 @08:37AM (#24909281) Homepage
    I know then when I'm really working on challenging programming, I get hungry - very hungry. But when I'm just doing routine stuff that isn't all that taxing I don't. So that would tend to suggest that "hard thinking" requires more fuel. I snack a lot when I'm coding - calorie-wise it must be heading for the 3000-4000 a day mark and some of it's non-too healthy. Yeah, yeah, just another morbidly obese coder you may be thinking. Well, no. I weigh 70kg and always have and probably always will. No matter what I do my weight is a constant. At 6ft tall that makes me pretty skinny. I seem to have a gene for some sort of metabolic homoeostasis - if I eat a lot more, it just speeds up to compensate and vice versa, so my weight stays pinned at 70kg. I have no idea if that's really what's going on but my siblings are the same.
    • by gr8dude (832945)

      Hmm, I noticed the same kind of phenomenon in myself; my mass is pretty much constant regardless of food consumption, mental effort or amount of exercise.

      I've went through a period of more eating, then more exercising (badminton, cycling, football, long walks, carrying heavy stuff). But the only way to get heavier is to put on my backpack with all the tech and books in it... :-)

      How can a person gain weight when this happens? I am aware of the fact that my mass does not correspond to my age and height (~54kg

  • That's what sucks about being too smart, there's hardly anything that makes you think hard.
  • Throw some hot pockets my way and I'm good. Despite the misconception of 'lazy' people working on computers... I don't think I've ever met an overweight IT.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ThePhilips (752041)

      Since when IT became "knowledge based work"???

      In our company IT is engaged in three major activities: spilling coffee on servers, checking cables and answering "NO" to all questions. None of that requires any "knowledge".

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ColdWetDog (752185) *

        answering "NO" to all questions.

        You do realize that IT encompasses more than just Dell 'technical' support, do you not?

  • I noticed myself doing this a few years ago. I feel it's not hunger so much as a craving for distraction. Like my brain saying a queue is full and needs to process. It happens when I'm thinking hard and don't want to be -- in a jam, not on a roll.

    I've caught myself muttering and pacing with a bag of chips. There's a Pavlovian absurdity to it. Haven't managed "hear bell: prove lemma" yet.

    It's not the sort of thing people can research, but it seems directly analogous to smoking cannabis and getting t
  • by Alomex (148003) on Sunday September 07, 2008 @10:42AM (#24910229) Homepage

    taxing mental effort appears to cause people to eat significantly more food, even though it doesn't burn many more calories than sitting around and relaxing.

    For the average person mental tasks do not significantly increase the consumption of energy, however there is a correlation between IQ and amount of energy that can be brought to bear. Moreover, thinking dramatically increases the consumption of glucose by the brain, so feeling hungry after thinking might be a reasonable response from the body to request replenishment of basic sugars.

  • Tiny study (Score:2, Interesting)

    by francisstp (1137345)
    Don't get too excited over this study. There were only 14 participants, all university students so not even slightly representative of the general population. Maybe for them doing heavy mental work was associated with stress more than it would for a cashier or a janitor, and relaxing was really uncommon. Some might have been there for the free buffet because they are too poor to afford real food, etc. With n = 14 there's just no meaningful conclusion you can reach.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ColdWetDog (752185) *

      With n = 14 there's just no meaningful conclusion you can reach.

      Wrong. You can state that "more research is needed". Then you write a new grant with n=20. In a decade or so, after a dozen papers, you might approach something like statistical significance. Then you can retire.

  • No. I have NOT been smoking pot; I've been thinking - a lot.
    Now give back the chips.
  • by Abies Bracteata (317438) on Sunday September 07, 2008 @02:02PM (#24911983)

    ...sells more junk food than your average supermarket!

  • Okay, who else first read this as "Canadian Researchers Stay Hard..."?

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