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Why dieting doesn´t usually work?

LIVE FROM TEDGLOBAL 2013 Why your brain doesn’t want you to lose weight: Sandra Aamodt at TEDGlobal 2013

80% of girls have been on a diet by the time they´re 10 years old. In a honest, TED talk, the neuroscientist Sandra Aamodt uses her personal story to frame an important lesson about how our brains manage our bodies, as she explores the science behind why dieting not only doesn´t work, but is likely to do more harm than good. She suggests ideas for how to live a less diet-obsessed life, intuitively.
Redacción 9/1/2014 Send to a friend
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Sandra Aamodt is a neuroscientist and science writer, who takes the complexities of neuroscience research and whips them into fun reads that give people a better understanding of their minds and behavior. 

As a neuroscientist, she wondered what made losing weight so hard.Turns out the brain is an incredibly efficient regulator of body weight. Isn’t weight loss about how much you eat versus how much energy you burn? It turns out that hunger and energy use are controlled by the brain, mostly behind the scenes, and this unconscious force is stronger than mere willpower.

The brain has its own sense of what your body should weigh. While lifestyle changes can shift your weight within this range, it’s much harder to move outside of it. Like a thermostat, Aamodt says, chemical messengers from the hypothalamus gland help regulate hunger, activity and metabolism to keep your weight stable as conditions change. Think of it this way: You can try to change the temperature in your house by opening a window in winter, but your thermostat will kick up the heat to balance the difference in temperature. Our brains work the same way, managing to maintain our weight at what it considers normal. It’s a response to our evolutionary history: For most of human history, food was scarce, and our bodies worked hard to keep us from starvation.

She warns that intuitive eating may not make you lose much weight, but every diet tested has failed in the long run, and as willpower is a limited resource, any weight-loss strategy that relies on it is doomed to fail when it’s necessary to focus on something else. It also does a lot of collateral damage.


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