Chew on this: Intellectual activities make people pig out

Be mindful of the stress of thinking.
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Sep 05, 2008
By dvm360.com staff
Your brain works hard for you. Every day on the job at your veterinary practice it helps you multi-task, problem solve, and keep pets healthy. But these brain-challenging activities can cause you to eat more food than when you're just resting.

To test this, researchers split volunteers into three groups for 45-minute sessions of either relaxing in a sitting position, reading and summarizing text, or completing a series of memory, attention, and vigilance tests on a computer. After completing the sessions, all volunteers were invited to eat as much as they wanted.

Results showed that the volunteers who completed the computer test consumed 253 more calories—or 29 percent more—than the couch potatoes. And those who read and summarized text consumed 200 more calories than the resting group. Researchers took blood samples from the volunteers before, during, and after the tests. The blood samples showed that intellectual work causes bigger fluctuations in glucose levels than rest periods.

However, just because your brain worked overtime for you today doesn't mean you should pig out. Researchers caution that caloric overcompensation after completing intellectual work—combined with the fact that you're less physically active when you're completing these tasks—could contribute to our nation's obesity epidemic.