The Role of Food Advertisements in the Obesity Epidemic

The Role of Food Advertisements in the Obesity Epidemic
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We all like to think we make important life decisions like what to eat consciously and rationally, but if that were the case we wouldn’t be in the midst of an obesity epidemic.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

The opening words of the Institute of Medicine’s report on the potential threat posed by food ads were: “Marketing works.” Yeah, there are a large number of well-conducted randomized studies I could go through showing advertising exposure and other marketing methods can change your eating behavior and get you to eat more, but what do you need to know beyond the fact the industry spends tens of billions of dollars a year on it? To get people to drink their brown sugar water, do you think Coca-Cola would spend a penny more than they thought they had to? It’s like when my medical colleagues accept “drug lunches” from pharmaceutical representatives, and take offense that I would suggest it might affect their prescribing practices. Do they really think drug companies are in the business of giving away free money for nothing? They wouldn’t do it if it didn’t work.

To give you a sense of marketing’s insidious nature, though, let me share an interesting piece of research published in the world’s leading scientific journal: “In-store music affects product choice” documented an experiment in which either French accordion or German Bierkeller music was played on alternate days in the wine section of a grocery store. On the days the French music was playing in the background, people were three times more likely to buy French wine, and on German music days, shoppers were about three times more likely to buy German wine. Despite the dramatic effect—not just a few percent difference, but a complete three-fold reversal—when approached afterwards, the vast majority of shoppers denied the music had influence on their choice.

We all like to think we make important life decisions, like what to eat, consciously and rationally. However, if that were the case, we wouldn’t be in the midst of an obesity epidemic. Most of our day-to-day behavior does not appear to be dictated by careful, considered deliberations. Rather, we tend to make more automatic, impulsive decisions triggered by unconscious cues or habitual patterns, especially when we’re tired, stressed, or preoccupied. The unconscious part of our brain is thought to guide human behaviors as much as 95 percent of the time. This is the arena where marketing manipulations do most of their dirty work.

The part of our brain that governs conscious awareness may only be able to process about 50 bits of information per second, which is roughly equivalent to a short tweet. Our entire cognitive capacity, on the other hand, is estimated to process in excess of 10 million bits per second. Because we’re only able to purposefully process a limited amount of information at a time, if we’re distracted or otherwise unable to concentrate, our decisions can become even more impulsive. An elegant illustration of this “cognitive overload” effect was provided from an experiment involving fruit salad and chocolate cake.

Before calls could be made at a touch of a button or the sound of our voice, the seven-digit span of phone numbers was based in part on the longest sequence most people can recall on the fly. We only seem able to hold about seven chunks of information (plus or minus two) in our immediate short-term memory. Okay, so here’s the setup: randomize people to memorize either a seven-digit number or a two-digit number, to be recalled in another room down the hall. On the way, offer them the choice of a fruit salad or a piece of chocolate cake. Memorizing a two-digit number is easy, and presumably takes few cognitive resources. Under the two-digit condition, most chose the fruit salad. Faced with the same decision, most of those trying to keep the seven digits in their heads just went for the cake.

This can play out in the real world by potentiating the effect of advertising. Have people watch a TV show with commercials for unhealthy snacks, and, no surprise, they eat more unhealthy snacks (compared to those exposed to non-food ads). Or, maybe that is a surprise. We all like to think that we’re in control and not so easily manipulatable. The kicker, though, is that we may be even more susceptible the less we pay attention. Randomize people to the same two-digit or seven-digit memorization task during the show, and the snack attack effect was magnified among those who were more preoccupied. How many of us have the TV on in the background, or multi-task during commercial breaks? This research suggests that it may make us even more impressionable to the subversion of our better judgement.

There’s an irony in all this. Calls for restrictions on marketing are often resisted by invoking the banner of freedom. What does that even mean in this context, when research shows our how easily our free choices can be influenced without our conscious control? A senior policy researcher at the RAND Corporation even went as far as to suggest that given the dire health consequences of our unhealthy eating habits, insidious marketing manipulations “should be considered in the same light as the invisible carcinogens and toxins in the air and water that can poison us without our awareness.”

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Video production by Glass Entertainment

Motion graphics by Avocado Video

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

The opening words of the Institute of Medicine’s report on the potential threat posed by food ads were: “Marketing works.” Yeah, there are a large number of well-conducted randomized studies I could go through showing advertising exposure and other marketing methods can change your eating behavior and get you to eat more, but what do you need to know beyond the fact the industry spends tens of billions of dollars a year on it? To get people to drink their brown sugar water, do you think Coca-Cola would spend a penny more than they thought they had to? It’s like when my medical colleagues accept “drug lunches” from pharmaceutical representatives, and take offense that I would suggest it might affect their prescribing practices. Do they really think drug companies are in the business of giving away free money for nothing? They wouldn’t do it if it didn’t work.

To give you a sense of marketing’s insidious nature, though, let me share an interesting piece of research published in the world’s leading scientific journal: “In-store music affects product choice” documented an experiment in which either French accordion or German Bierkeller music was played on alternate days in the wine section of a grocery store. On the days the French music was playing in the background, people were three times more likely to buy French wine, and on German music days, shoppers were about three times more likely to buy German wine. Despite the dramatic effect—not just a few percent difference, but a complete three-fold reversal—when approached afterwards, the vast majority of shoppers denied the music had influence on their choice.

We all like to think we make important life decisions, like what to eat, consciously and rationally. However, if that were the case, we wouldn’t be in the midst of an obesity epidemic. Most of our day-to-day behavior does not appear to be dictated by careful, considered deliberations. Rather, we tend to make more automatic, impulsive decisions triggered by unconscious cues or habitual patterns, especially when we’re tired, stressed, or preoccupied. The unconscious part of our brain is thought to guide human behaviors as much as 95 percent of the time. This is the arena where marketing manipulations do most of their dirty work.

The part of our brain that governs conscious awareness may only be able to process about 50 bits of information per second, which is roughly equivalent to a short tweet. Our entire cognitive capacity, on the other hand, is estimated to process in excess of 10 million bits per second. Because we’re only able to purposefully process a limited amount of information at a time, if we’re distracted or otherwise unable to concentrate, our decisions can become even more impulsive. An elegant illustration of this “cognitive overload” effect was provided from an experiment involving fruit salad and chocolate cake.

Before calls could be made at a touch of a button or the sound of our voice, the seven-digit span of phone numbers was based in part on the longest sequence most people can recall on the fly. We only seem able to hold about seven chunks of information (plus or minus two) in our immediate short-term memory. Okay, so here’s the setup: randomize people to memorize either a seven-digit number or a two-digit number, to be recalled in another room down the hall. On the way, offer them the choice of a fruit salad or a piece of chocolate cake. Memorizing a two-digit number is easy, and presumably takes few cognitive resources. Under the two-digit condition, most chose the fruit salad. Faced with the same decision, most of those trying to keep the seven digits in their heads just went for the cake.

This can play out in the real world by potentiating the effect of advertising. Have people watch a TV show with commercials for unhealthy snacks, and, no surprise, they eat more unhealthy snacks (compared to those exposed to non-food ads). Or, maybe that is a surprise. We all like to think that we’re in control and not so easily manipulatable. The kicker, though, is that we may be even more susceptible the less we pay attention. Randomize people to the same two-digit or seven-digit memorization task during the show, and the snack attack effect was magnified among those who were more preoccupied. How many of us have the TV on in the background, or multi-task during commercial breaks? This research suggests that it may make us even more impressionable to the subversion of our better judgement.

There’s an irony in all this. Calls for restrictions on marketing are often resisted by invoking the banner of freedom. What does that even mean in this context, when research shows our how easily our free choices can be influenced without our conscious control? A senior policy researcher at the RAND Corporation even went as far as to suggest that given the dire health consequences of our unhealthy eating habits, insidious marketing manipulations “should be considered in the same light as the invisible carcinogens and toxins in the air and water that can poison us without our awareness.”

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Video production by Glass Entertainment

Motion graphics by Avocado Video

Doctor's Note

Given the role marketing can play even when we least suspect it, what is the role of personal responsibility in the obesity epidemic? That’s the subject of my next video!

We are winding down this series on obesity, with three remaining:

If you missed any of the previous videos, here they are:

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

41 responses to “The Role of Food Advertisements in the Obesity Epidemic

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  1. Is that the MSRP or the extra protein, or maybe the milk does a body good. Hurry, the offer ends soon. And don’t turn off the TV, we will be back after the commerical. Got milk, Lucky Strikes, walk a mile for a Camel, you can’t eat just one, I am the Frito bandito. . . . Me, influenced by advertising. . . nonsense!

  2. This was a fabulous video.

    Packed full of real information.

    I know for a fact that it is true.

    I even have seen myself buy more transition food during this pandemic, while I prep.

    Because I mentally don’t have extra energy for figuring out what to prepare yet.

    I have found that I definitely can’t focus on too many things.

    I can learn gardening, but can’t learn gardening, plus research what to get to actually do gardening, plus do it.

    I have been ordering in some things, but it will take me months to implement it, and in the meantime, I will eat more non-dairy burritos again.

    I don’t want to even start the gardening until I am ready to do canning or know what to cook.

    The amount of information just in those areas flowing through my head is so extreme.

    On top of that, the big companies we deal with who owe us 6 figures are already starting to just send checks for $50 and there was a newspaper headline in the post office that the post office might finally collapse during coronavirus.

    I have finished my sanitizing project and I am happy with the Silvertize gloves to sanitize my hands 4 or 5 times per day process, but there already was so much overload with the Keto versus Paleo versus Whole Food Plant-Based, Lectin, Gluten, Phytate, Cancer, Diabetes, Blood Pressure, aspirin concepts.

    I think I would have collapsed if I hadn’t run full speed 2 years ago up until now.

    My family is about to face a meat shortage and that is what they eat. Two weeks from now, they will have to learn a whole new language and I am waiting for people to start coming to me.

    So, yes, in the meantime, I am eating nondairy processed food, but it is my white flag waving in my brain saying, “You have got to be kidding me that you want to learn all of this at the same time.”

    1. Deb – the old adage of Rome wasn’t built in a day would probably apply here – every small step that you make in the right direction, is one step further than you were yesterday. To see the overall is overwhelming, to break it down in tiny steps is much more manageable. When I read about the meat shortage my first thought was – well, I guess that won’t impact my grocery bill! Now, a shortage of beans, greens and grains – that would!

      1. Anna,

        The Whole Foods Market has a shortage of whole grains and beans — which they attribute to “problems with our suppliers.” I’m learning to shop elsewhere.

        And I agree with you about small steps. I grow produce in my backyard — but only enough for about 2 people to eat over the summer and fall. I estimate that I grow about 1/2-2/3 of the produce we consume during that time. I don’t can. And I started small: 1 raised bed (too many tree roots, from little ugly yew trees as well as two bigger ones, which we had removed over the years), which I’ve now expanded to 5. I’ve learned what I like to grow and eat, and what I don’t. I don’t sweat the details, I just enjoy the process. If I had to grow all my own food — I would learn to forage! Lots of those weeks I pull are edible!

        Oh, and I shop at our little local farmers market for the rest of what we eat, when it’s open.

        1. Dr J, I, too, have a small garden and try to grow several different kinds of vegetables to eat over the summer and freeze a few of them. What amazed me this year is that because we had a mild winter (although it did dip into the teens F a few times), the kale plants grew like crazy all winter! I had fresh kale all winter long.

      2. Anna,

        Thank you for your wisdom and encouragement.

        I do believe that the announcement of a global food shortage and a meat shortage and the panic buying that has already happened is impacting things.

        When the panic buying started, for a week or two, at the Whole Foods and other local grocery stores near me, there was no rice, no beans – canned or dry, no quinoa, no lentils, no tomato products, no oats, no nutritional yeast, no apple cider vinegar, etc. There wasn’t even one package of any type of frozen vegetable or canned vegetable or soup. No Amy’s products, no Morningstar products, no Boca products or any of the other meat-alternatives or vegan pizza’s or hummus. The vegan and vegetarian and faux meat sections have increased in some stores by 3 or 4 times. I was amazed at how many meat alternatives Stop and Shop had, and I suspect that is because the meat shortage is going to cause people to need something and I don’t want to be eating any of those products to save them for the meat shortage. I don’t really eat them anyway, but, as I said, I have backed up a little bit to transition foods.

        I probably have enough beans for a long time and enough garbanzo beans for hummus. I have some lentils, but probably not enough because I like lentil loaf. I may not have enough oats, because I like oat milk, and the oil-free oat milk has been gone regularly through this time.

        Today, after posting that comment, I must have heard some grain music because I don’t really eat grains yet, but I suddenly had the logic that I can grow vegetables easily and I can even use grocery store vegetables and fruits as starter seeds for that but maybe I need to figure out how to eat grains.

        I bought 5-pound containers of rye and hulled barley and kasha.

        I also have 5-pounds of broccoli seeds and kale seeds on the way.

        Mushrooms are something I haven’t figured out yet.

        And I still haven’t decided whether to buy powdered potato or grow potatoes or whether I can eat potatoes or not.

        And I haven’t figured out which vegetables I am going to grow.

        But I guess I am pretty set.

        But not if the economy collapses.

        They are selling heirloom seeds, but it is so hard to figure out which companies are real and which are con artists online.

        No matter what, people need to figure out what types of foods to eat, what types of recipes to make, how and where to buy, and store the bulk ingredients if they choose to prep. Plus the money end of everything and time management and skillsets like gardening and those supplies.

        I feel genuine compassion for humanity right now.

        1. I realize that it was Dr. Greger’s Doctor’s notes section playing in my head that got me to buy the grains.

          I did go to Harmony House and I just ordered freeze-dried mushrooms.

          I looked up growing mushrooms and they sell kits to grow but the season is September to May 15th.

          Maybe next year.

          1. Watching the feed the poor people commercial the other day, what struck me is that people lose their jobs and suddenly they were literally drinking water for meals.

            I know that in this country, there are soup kitchens and churches and food pantries, but if you don’t have money for car payments or gas or bus fare, suddenly people really do end up not having food very quickly if you are poor-ish.

            I do have friends who have gone without food and the love of my life’s father talked about seasons where all he had to eat in the house was a jar of peanut butter.

            Growing food is a no-brainer, but having the way to do it in place before a global economic disaster is the concept that keeps running through my brain.

        2. Deb,
          I live in Arizona where it’s sometimes warm, but you should know growing potatoes and sweet potatoes even in cooler climates is so easy you can’t go wrong trying it. Google it. There’s lots of fun suggestions even if you just start with a 5 gallon bucket. Good Luck!

  3. It is not just the ads. Look at every cooking channel, healthy recipes and nutritional value if considered at all is treated like an afterthought. I have been a Americas Test Kitchen member for many years, and trying to get them to stop churning out high fat, sugary, Paula Dean type recipes is something they will not do. Even most all of their ‘healthy’ recipes aren’t. Everything food is about flavor and texture only to most every cookbook publisher and television show.

  4. The only time I wasn’t over weight was when I worked out. I remember no aches, no pains, just feeling strong everyday. So the only opinion I have is regular exercise. The secret is regular. It doesn’t have to be for a long time, 5 or 10 minutes is good. It has to be regular. Everyday with Sundays the off day. Make it short and sweet. Then it’s enjoyable. As far as eatting, eat a plant based diet with one day per week of cheating. Feel strong everyday!

  5. I have not had a TV most of my life and am a long term Buddhist practicing meditation and mindfulness, as well as being a MD. This has allowed me to change my views quickly when new information is available, and thankfully the nutrition team reviews all the nutritional science research so I don’t have to! My wife and I like everyone else became depressed and anxious with COVID-19, as well as my wife developing spondylolisthesis with bilateral L5 radiculopathies. We rested 2 weeks, cut our meals to 2/day, losing weight. My wife started specific spine exercises and we gradually started walking, now 1.5 hours/day with much improvement for my wife’s back and radiculopathies, and our mood brightened. Now we are back to 3 meals/day. Not having TV is a blessing. We live in Costa Rica in the Nicoya province, a blue zone. Maybe because we have 8 digit phone numbers? P.S. We watch monkeys, and birds that feast in our jungle property daily, instead of us watching TV.

    1. Robert Haile,

      I had extremely debilitating back pain last year, and after testing, learned that my scoliosis was worsening, as was my osteoarthritis. (I think I also have a pinched nerve. Plus joint pain in hips and knees.) Physical therapy helped, but walking prove the most beneficial. Now I’m up to 2-3 miles each day — except during the winter when there is ice on the sidewalks. And even then, I use Yak Trax to get out and walk.

      Walking is an amazing exercise! Too often under rated. And what surprised me was that after decades of doing yoga (mostly at home), yoga made my back pain worse. Despite everybody telling me that it would help — including the PT. So I think that in addition to starting walking, stopping the yoga was also therapeutic, at least for me.

      1. That’s weird. I had back problems for decades and doing yoga completely transformed me. Before starting yoga, I would lift too much and be completely incapacitated for days. Now, after eight years of yoga, no problems. It’s almost a miracle. I think that switching to WFPB also helped a lot. Having a strong core is going to help support the spine and keep it in proper alignment. Also, you have a lumbar artery. It’s purpose is to supply blood to the capillaries which feed the spine and joints. The blood flow provides nutrients for growth and repair, and carries away waste products. So keeping a good clean cardiovascular system is also important.

        1. Blair,

          But maybe you don’t have scoliosis? “Severe scoliosis?” Or osteoarthritis? For me, it was not a matter of lifting too much. Scoliosis is a curvature of the back; I’ve had it for decades (curves to the left side), but it is worsening as I age, and am shrinking. I used to wonder what I would do if my hip bone started grinding against my lower rib.

          Anyway, I’m glad that yoga was helpful to you. In hindsight, my yoga practice was making my back pain worse and worse and worse — because I was told and believed that it would make it better. I loved yoga. But I love being pain free, able to move, and even able to garden, better.

      2. Dr. J,
        Thanks for the walking tip. I’m on to it but should do more of it. Last year on a house painting job I may have herniated a lumbar disc. It was so debilitating I bought a stroller. I figured out I had to get exercising to recover. I started walking on a crutch, then progressed to a cane and then free walking. This year I’ve been working jobs. I get stressed but also get the necessary rest.

  6. From my experience, watching ads and shopping in places designed to make you make bad choices do make it hard to stick to healthy habits. Thankfully we have paid streaming so we can avoid ads but there is no supermarket that I know of which only sells whole healthy food (I live in Germany). This would make it sooo much easier!

    The factor which had most bad influence on my ability to stick with healthy diet is my own family. If the people you love suddenly become hostile to you because you’ve given up sugar, meat and junk, then it’s really unlikely that you’ll be able to sustain good habits. So, the ads are just the top of the iceberg.

    1. I agree Liliana, though I have not had a tv throughout my lifetime, I don’t find I am ‘triggered’ by pictures. I love looking at pictures of food even if it’s food I never eat… I just can not have any temptations in the house! I buy fruit, veg, beans, grains, soy milk and spices. That’s it.

  7. I was looking at the NY doctor and French doctor who committed suicide around the stress of COVID-19 and how doctors kill themselves at twice the rate of society.

    Then I got to an article about What they said was an epidemic of nurses committing suicide even before the pandemic.

    https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/03/31/trez-m31.html

    They also said that gun sales have increased dramatically and that they expect a dramatic increase in suicides after this.

  8. In regards to the food industry seducing us with their subliminal messaging, the only real way to prevent us from being pulled in and then buying unhealthy food, there are still things that we can do.

    First of all as many have suggestion those are both was with room can plant a garden. But I was also thinking that another way to keep from being influenced by these messages is for us to order online as much as possible or to pick up our groceries after we order them with our smartphones.

    I am getting tired of throwing away good money and buying garbage and then getting home and starting to put them in the pantry and realizing that I had been somehow seduced.

    1. Making a well thought out grocery list and sticking to it helps me bring home only the healthy foods that i want. A list also helps me shop quickly and with confidence.

  9. I refuse to buy things online (particularly groceries) or to even use an air miles card. I have written out Dr Greger’s Daily Dozen and stuck it up on the wall. Using this as my meal guide and writing out a shopping list for the week’s meals is easy. Everything I buy reinforces my decision to be as healthy as I can be in this moment…. I can’t control what’s going on in the world, but I can control what I choose to eat. I stick to the produce dept., and the non-dairy milk section and I’m done.

    1. Barb,

      You have a simple, healthy life. Good for you!

      I generally prefer buying local because I know that local shops may go out of business and they are the heartbeat of local economies. Lots of poor people work local and we would be in trouble without them.

      That being said, I have bought seeds and bulk goods on-line, and I think that part of me is the part that researches everything to death. I watch a lot of comparison YouTube videos and review videos and ConsumerReports and other testing websites and often the online part for me has everything to do with finding real permanent solutions to everything. I can’t buy Silvertize gloves locally. I could buy LED grow bulbs local and might, but I can get them half price and free delivery online and that was the same for the organic dried beans and grains. I couldn’t find ANY of the types of whole grains I was looking for locally. Not even at Whole Foods. Dr. Greger talked about purple barley and that was easy to find online, even though they are out of stock. I couldn’t find the rye or hulled barley or so many of the things and the bulk section of Whole Foods is closed and I am trying to prep my dry goods. I have a big shelf and I already have Ball mason jars that have been waiting for dry goods. I also wanted to try the dehydrated vegetables that Dr. McDougall recommended.

      When online, I try to stick with companies that I can research who are real companies with real shops and where you can see the heart and soul of the people and that they are committed to organic, heirloom, Plant-Based, sustainable, etc.

      I used to think “You can’t trust anybody online” but, in all honesty, it is no different than life. Yes, people can hide things or lie without you seeing their facial cues, but I have only been “burned” one time in all of the online shopping that I have done and even that I wasn’t burned really. It was just that with all of the other products, I got beyond excellence in quality by people who really represent their work. I could not have gotten that quality on many things locally.

      The one thing I didn’t like was one set of face masks I bought.

      But I ordered from 3 sources and 2 of the sources I got N99 quality masks so much better than what I even expected and 1 person sent something I will be using as rags.

  10. Dr Greger was on the Food Revolution Summit today. You can still hear the replays if you sign up for free.

    Susan Peirce Thompson, PhD was talking about the food addicted brain and said that looking at PetScans of the deep brain the food addicted brain looked worse than the heroin-addicted brain and cocaine-addicted brain and that when they tested it in animal models rats who were already addicted to cocaine and were shaking with desire for cocaine were given the choice between cocaine and sugar, they preferentially choose sugar.

    That is interesting.

  11. I was waiting with two others for a bus this morning, and we kept saying “what did you say?” or “what was that?” It’s true that our eyes are usually drawn to a person’s mouth to “hear” what they are saying, and when we wear a mask it’s pretty hard to talk with others. One of the gals told me about a mask with a “window” in it. What a great idea!

    https://mymodernmet.com/face-mask-for-deaf-hard-of-hearing/

  12. For people with food addictions, her talk is something they should hear because she found it easier to get off of cocaine and crack cocaine and meth than to change her eating.

    I have listened to her before and, the past 2 years, I would have said that I had gotten over the brain addiction issues even if I had some sugar or some pizza, but I am thinking about her program because even if I don’t ever slide back into peanut butter cups or cheese or dairy milk, I know that I am even having the sense of addiction to hummus, and I have backed up to transition foods and she said that she left Bright Line eating from the stress and extra work of trying to run the Bright Line program and that is what these COVID-19 weeks feel like to me right now.

    I feel like I am going to learn the gardening and then maybe try her process.

    I can’t do it all and learn it all and not be affected by people’s lives being in jeopardy without trying to help, and it is hard to stay peaceful and do my spiritual disciplines and my physical disciplines and my eating disciplines even with just the financial stress of companies not paying.

    Anyway, I know that my talking too much brings stress to some people, but I wanted to point people to her talk because it really helped me today.

    She talked about things like giving ourselves grace and not shaming ourselves and things like that there are 1/3 of people whose brains don’t become addicted even if they use heroin. We can’t possibly understand each other. Our brains are so different.

    I feel like I failed WFPB even when I ate WFPB but I have learned so much and have implemented so much and after I organize, maybe bringing the cortisol down might help.

  13. I would be surprised if 1/3 of the population had non addictive personalities. Maybe that’s true, idk, but it seemed to me that there are so many people with addiction issues, including food.

    I was thinking about it today after writing a response to James Munroe. I can so relate to what he is saying, and I can understand the despair of ending up in the same place over and over again. Even after a lifetime of learning about nutrition and eating well, I would eat junk food to exclusion if it ever was in our house. So, I hope James gives it a go and tries shopping online or whatever he wants to try. Sometimes we just have to step out of our habits to get things moving in the right direction.

  14. I am wondering about this study, “Diet modulates brain network stability, a biomarker for brain aging, in young adults”, https://www.pnas.org/content/117/11/6170, with the conclusion that ketones is a better fuel for the brain thus preventing deterioation of the brain in elderly. I am 60 years old, vegan, with a severe B12 defficiency for many years without knowing it. Now I am taking B 12 vitamins every morning but I fear my brain has been damaged. I am concerned about what to eat to prevent furhter damage of my brain. What do you thik about the content of the study? Thank you for all your work.

    1. Ellinor, I have not read your study but I did download it and checked a couple of things. The researchers did the study to promote/ develop products to sell so I am leary of it from the start.

      Someone will no doubt answer your question, but until then, here are some links that might interest you.
      Dr Greger has a wealth of videos on various aspects of brain health including nutrition and specific foods. Explore them here:
      https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/brain-health/
      There are also many videos on the topic of ketogenic diets. At this video check under Doctor’s notes to find links to the other 6 videos in the series on ketogenic diets.
      https://nutritionfacts.org/video/is-Weight-Loss-on-Ketosis-Sustainable/

    2. Barb has a good point that should be kept in mind.

      I read over the study quickly. The things that I notice are as follows:
      1) They make a lot of assumptions that may not be true such as what they measure is a good proxy for long term brain function…this is just one of many many assumptions they make.
      2) They did not measure the neurological affects of a whole food plant based diet so no comparison with a ketogenic diet can be made.

      Also, please keep in mind that Dr. G does not advocate a vegan diet. Many vegan diets are very high risk for disease and premature death. The clinical evidence supports the consumption of an unprocessed plant based diet which is a subset of veganism, but they are not the same.

      Good luck trying to sustain a ketogenic diet long term. I’ve tried many times in the past and could not. I know many other people that have tried and failed as well. It represents a state of starvation that you were evolutionarily designed to sustain temporarily at best. Your body and brain will constantly try to override your attempts to stay on this ketogenic diet. Also keep in mind that to maintain ketosis, you must be VERY strict in your carb restriction. That leaves you with the choice of taking their supplement, but no supplement has every been shown to decrease the risk of disease or premature death in those that are not deficient in the nutrient that is being supplemented. On the other hand, many supplements have been shown to increase the risk for disease and death.

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