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Obesity Crisis or Cognitive Crisis?

The arti­cle Clum­sy kids more like­ly to become obese adults: study (CBC)…

- “The study was based on tests of about 11,000 peo­ple in Britain who were test­ed for hand con­trol, co-ordi­na­tion and clum­si­ness at age sev­en and 11, and were then fol­lowed until age 33.”

- “Prof. Scott Mont­gomery of the Karolin­s­ka Insti­tutet in Stock­holm and his col­leagues at Impe­r­i­al Col­lege Lon­don in Eng­land said they pur­pose­ly chose mea­sure­ments of fine hand con­trol such as pick­ing up match­es, rather than those like­ly to be influ­enced by par­tic­i­pat­ing in sports, such as catch­ing balls.”

- “While it is often assumed that the cog­ni­tive impair­ments seen in adult obe­si­ty are a con­se­quence of excess weight, that could be putting the chick­en before the egg, the researchers say”

…reminds me of Judith Beck’s words on how to “Train Your Brain to Think Like a Thin Per­son”

- “The main mes­sage of cog­ni­tive ther­a­py over­all, and its appli­ca­tion in the diet world, is straight-for­ward: prob­lems los­ing weight are not one’s fault. Prob­lems sim­ply reflect lack of skills–skills that can be acquired and mas­tered through prac­tice. Dieters who read the book or work­book learn a new cog­ni­tive or behav­ioral skill every day for six weeks. They prac­tice some skills just once; they auto­mat­i­cal­ly incor­po­rate oth­ers for their life­time.”

- “That is exact­ly my goal: to show how every­one can learn some crit­i­cal skills. The key ones are:”

- “1) How to moti­vate one­self. The first task that dieters do is to write a list of the 15 of 20 rea­sons why they want to lose weight and read that list every sin­gle day.”

- “2) Plan in advance and self-mon­i­tor behav­ior. A typ­i­cal rea­son for diet fail­ure is a strong pref­er­ence for spon­tane­ity. I ask peo­ple to pre­pare a plan and then I teach them the skills to stick to it.”

- “3) Over­come sab­o­tag­ing thoughts. Dieters have hun­dreds and hun­dreds of thoughts that lead them to engage in unhelp­ful eat­ing behav­ior. I have dieters read cards that remind them of key points, e.g., that it isn’t worth the few moments of plea­sure they’ll get from eat­ing some­thing they hadn’t planned and that they’ll feel bad­ly after­wards; that they can’t eat what­ev­er they want, when­ev­er they want, in what­ev­er quan­ti­ty they want, and still be thin­ner; that the scale is not sup­posed to go down every sin­gle day; that they deserve cred­it for each help­ful eat­ing behav­ior they engage in, to name just a few.”

- “4) Tol­er­ate hunger and crav­ing. Over­weight peo­ple often con­fuse the two. You expe­ri­ence hunger when your stom­ach feels emp­ty. Crav­ing is an urge to eat, usu­al­ly expe­ri­enced in the mouth or throat, even if your stom­ach is full.”

A prob­lem like the obe­si­ty epi­dem­ic is, no doubt, a result of many fac­tors, where chick­en and egg are often mixed. What mat­ters, though, is how to set up pub­lic health poli­cies and spe­cif­ic plans that take into account the Cog­ni­tive dimen­sion: if peo­ple can­not reg­u­late their own eat­ing and exer­cise habits, half the bat­tle is lost.

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