MCCHE Precision Convergence Webinar Series with Mark Schatzker

Thursday, November 16, 2023 11:00to13:00

Can rising uncertainty between biology and food signaling to the human brain be a key pathway to obesity? Insights for health, food and economic research, innovation and policy.

By Mark Schatzker

An award-winning writer based in Toronto

About the speaker

ABSTRACT: For more than half a century, the rates of overweight and obesity has been steadily increasing. As a confused an alarmed general public embraces pseudo-scientific theories and fad diets, scientists have been similarly unable to discern the cause of what has become our most pressing public health concern. Here, journalist and author Mark Schatzker puts forth a markedly different model for obesity. Complementary research in behavioural economics and experimental psychology show that humans respond to uncertain cues or prospects with enhanced motivation. Recent findings in both human and animal studies suggest that taste and flavour are sensory indications of expected nutrition. As innovations and food technology that include artificial sweeteners, fat replacers and synthetic flavours create flavour and taste sensations that no longer correspond to ingested nutrition, signals that for millennia have been certain have become uncertain. A growing body of brain imaging confirms what would be expected, which is that obesity is characterized by an increase in motivation for food but not the pleasure of eating. The panel will be discussing insights for behavioral health, food and economic research, innovation and policy.

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