Don’t overthink this article or you could get fat.
Here’s the theory…
… if you do intellectual work, you eat a lot more calories.
And worse yet, you eat a lot more calories than you burn doing your intellectual work.
So the more educated we get, the more intellectual work we do, and the fatter we get.
Which might explain the obesity epidemic.
Or so suggests a new study published in Psychosomatic Medicine.
The researchers studied how much 14 students ate after completing each of 3 activities:
1. Sitting in a relaxing position (the rest period)…
2. Reading and making a summary of written material…
3. Doing a series of attention, memory, and awareness tests on a computer…
After doing each activity for 45 minutes, the students were told they could eat as much food as they wanted from a buffet.
The scientists showed that the intellectual activities (#2 and #3 above) required the students to burn just 3 more calories than sitting in a relaxing position (#1).
Compared with what they ate after the rest period (activity #1), the students ate 203 extra calories after activity #2 and 253 extra calories after activity #3.
That’s 24% and 29% more calories consumed with the intellectual activities. Even though the students burned just 3 extra calories from intellectual activities.
No wonder we’re getting fatter.
But there may be a physical basis for what’s happening.
By taking blood samples from the students before, during, and after each activity, the researchers found that intellectual pursuits cause larger fluctuations in insulin and glucose levels than happen with sitting in a relaxing position.
Maybe it’s because intellectual activities are more stressful or maybe it’s another type of biological response. But the scientists suggest that your body may try to restore its glucose level to normal by triggering your need to eat after intellectual activity.
So between the extra calories you eat and the less physical activity you get, you may be at greater risk for obesity from doing intellectual work.