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Can Thinking Too Much Make You Fat?

posted by Mark on January 5th, 2009

Can Thinking Too Much Make You Fat?Online students beware: a new study conducted by researchers at Universite Laval in Quebec, Canada, indicates that heavy thought might contribute to obesity. The limited study — apparently, there are only 14 obese people in Quebec — suggests that intellectual activity causes increased fluctuations in glucose and insulin levels in your body. Since glucose is the only fuel used by brain cells, the brain may in turn tell the body to replenish the burned glucose by eating more.

In the study, the subjects were given food after three separate activities: relaxing in a chair, writing a 350-word summary of a document and engaging in a comprehensive battery of tests on a computer. Compared to the feeding time after the relaxation period, the subjects ate an average of 203 more calories after writing the summary and 253 more calories after taking the computerized tests. As icing on the fattening cake, they burned only THREE more calories during the “brainy” events than they did while relaxing, resulting in a net 200 and 250 caloric increase after the intellectual activities.

Online students, of course, get the double whammy of not only craving more food due to increased brain function, but also experiencing the decreased physical activity of spending all their time in front of a computer. Linked with other studies that suggest that obesity decreases your brain function, it’s not hard to come up with this bleak equation: studying = weight gain = stupidity. Ergo, studying makes you stupid. (Having drawn that equation, I suddenly need a sandwich.)

Of course, it’s not that simple. There are many other factors that contribute to weight gain — diet, physical activity, heredity — and even if you do find your cravings increase while studying, you can counter them by eating healthy foods and by taking time out to exercise a few minutes a day.

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