obesity

The doctor replies again: Once obese, it's tough to escape

You probably know that I've been in conversation with Dr. Christopher Ochner, and this is probably the last installment in that conversation. I expect we'll continue to be in touch, but this exchange has been pleasingly unusual and I don't know that we'll approximate it. Please give Chris a hand for engaging on these points. I am.]

By Dr. Christopher Ochner


Going trayless in cafeterias — a mixed outcome

I said in a recent post that there is very little black and white, compared to all the gray of decision-making, and here’s another example.

Brian Wansink and David Just do some interesting research at the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab, and the finding in this report is that cafeterias, in schools and otherwise, ditch their buffet trays, the victim is often salad at the expense of dessert.

trayOne reason many cafeterias have gone trayless is to reduce energy use (repeatedly cleaning all those trays), to which Just and Wansink add a desire to cut down on food waste: People are less likely to take food they’re not going to eat when it’s easier to carry.

But when they went to a college cafeteria to test what happens when trays are taken away, they found that if forced to choose among making multiple trips, or leaving something at the expense of something else.

Students were more reluctant to take a salad, as 18.3% fewer students took salads on the trayless day than the students on the normal day. Without trays, many patrons tried to compensate for having fewer items on their trays by taking more of the few items they took. Because of this students were less likely to eat all of their entrée (38.8% vs. 85.7%), salad (53.6% vs. 91.7%), or dessert (52.7% vs 90.7%)—though the amount of dessert remaining was insignificant.

So not only did it not cut down on food waste, it altered food choices for the unhealthier. Getting rid of the trays seems like a good idea, from the energy perspective. So this is just another example that few matters are black and white, that the color of most decisions in gray.


Is it biology? Lifestyle? Why not both (and more)?

I foreshadowed this post last week, when I began my ripostes to Dr. Chris Ochner, a good guy and respected researcher on obesity, a particular interest of mine. I just want to emphasize, again, that this isn’t about Ochner; it’s about ideas that are well evident in public debate. Our interview, and the aftermath, have provided opportunities for further discussion.


I didn't diet, and I don't feel deprived

If you’ve been reading along, you know I’ve now had several posts interacting with Dr. Christopher Ochner, a prominent obesity researcher at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. This is another one, responding specifically to his guest post; I just want to say, to keep saying, that Ochner is being generous with his time, and I’m grateful for the interaction.


Dr. Christopher Ochner: "Food could be considered an addictive substance.”

Welcome to today’s installment of “10 Words or Less,” in which I ask brief questions of interesting people and ask for brief answers in return. In 2009, today’s participant became the youngest member of the Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons to run an independent research laboratory, and he’s published more than 20 peer-reviewed articles since. He’s often quoted on matters related to obesity, which is how I learned about him. Please remember: “10 words” is a goal, not a rule, so please no counting at home.


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