Currently browsing "Linda Bartoshuk Columns"

Presidential Column

Can We Make Healthful Foods Taste Good, or Even

Losing weight and eating healthier are national obsessions. Good psychological science helps us understand why the foods that are the healthiest are often not those we like the best. We understand that our food preferences are acquired by mechanisms that evolved to solve short-term nutritional problems. We are hard-wired to love sweet and salty because those preferences save our lives before experience can equip us to protect ourselves. We learn to love flavors that are paired with those experiences our brains are hard-wired to view as good. The result: we are quick to learn to love flavors associated with the energy dense foods that give us fuel to live. Sweet, salty, and fat — the triumvirate of substances that spell survival when we are young — ironically spell chronic disease as science gives us the tools to survive long after we produce our children. ... More>


Presidential Column

Learning to Like Foods

In previous columns, we have distinguished between the hard-wired affect associated with taste (especially our love of sweet and salty tastes and dislike of bitter tastes) and the learned affect associated with flavor (i.e., retronasal olfaction). APS Fellow Anthony Sclafani has played a major role in our understanding of the mechanisms that result in learned preferences for food flavors. ... More>


Presidential Column

Flavor Learning in Utero and Infancy

In my previous columns about food behavior, I have contrasted the hard-wired affect for taste with the learned affect for flavor. This month, I present an interview with Julie Mennella, the pioneer who showed us that learning to like flavors begins even before we are born. My first exposure to this idea was as a graduate student studying taste at Brown University in the 1960s. I encountered a foreign student with a pregnant wife who was very concerned about getting a supply of spices traditionally consumed at home. He explained that for their child to like the foods of their culture, his wife needed to consume the traditional spices during pregnancy and breast feeding. At that time, I found this belief surprising. Now, Mennella has shown us that it is based on solid psychological science. ... More>


Presidential Column

The “Obesity Epidemic”

Understanding food behavior and the “obesity epidemic” requires accurate data on weight. This month Katherine Flegal tells us about how these data are collected and what they show. Flegal is a Distinguished Consultant at the National Center for Health Statistics of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). She is also an adjunct professor at the School of Public Health, University of North Carolina. Her primary research interests are in the epidemiology of obesity and related conditions, and she has published widely in this area (see the reference list for representative publications). Her current interests include tracking the prevalence of obesity in the United States and investigating the association of weight with mortality. Flegal has a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley, a PhD in Nutrition from Cornell University, and an MPH in epidemiology from the University of Pittsburgh, where she completed a post-doctoral fellowship. She was a research faculty member in the Biostatistics department of the University of Michigan before going to CDC in 1987 ... More>