The Danger Of The Free Buffet On Vacation: Tell Me
Nutrition

The danger of the free buffet on vacation: tell me what you eat and I will tell you how you will gain weight

Hyperpalatable foods, rich in carbohydrates, fats and sodium, would be the key to detect the risk of obesity.

Al rico buffet.

The free buffet, the symbol of the food debauchery in the hotels of Spain that we allow ourselves on vacation, gradually returns as the most restrictive pandemic measures are lifted. Eating healthy in these circumstances is complicated by the multiple processed and ultra-processed options at our fingertips. But luckily, it’s not impossible.

Care must be taken, however: the food that is chosen in this type of restaurants could be used for predict the chances of ending up with weight gain or even become obese, according to a recent study published in the journal Appetite.

To reach this conclusion, the researchers responsible for the study paid special attention to the foods defined as “hyperpalatable”, dividing these into two subcategories: food high in carbohydrates and sodium (CSOD) and food high in fat and sodium (FSOD), and compared them to ultra-processed, calorie-dense foods.

According to Tera Fazzino, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Kansas and lead author of the study, hyperpalatable foods are those with the ideal combination of ingredients to improve the original palatability and make them more rewarding artificially.

Some examples of hyperpalatable foods would be sweets, sausages, chips or pastries. In general, foods that can be difficult to stop eating. During the study, several non-obese young adult volunteers were recruited and ate from an all-you-can-eat buffet. Their body composition was measured before the meal, and they were followed up one year later.

Likewise, the researchers tracked associations between the proportions of the foods chosen in the free buffet, focusing on high-calorie, ultra-processed and hyperpalatable foods, and their possible relationship with changes in weight or fat percentage in participants over a year. According to Fazzino and his colleagues, a behavioral tendency to consume certain types of food.

Participants who consumed a higher proportion of hyperpalatable foods rich in carbohydrates and sodium (CSOD) They were the ones who suffered greater weight change and fat percentage after the passage of one year. Examples of CSOD foods would be crackers or popcorn, among others.

However the study found no relationship among those who consumed large proportions of high-fat, high-sodium hyperpalatable foods (FSODs), calorie-dense foods, or ultra-processed foods.

hedonic eating

In this case, the researchers’ conclusion would be that consuming more hyperpalatable foods rich in carbohydrates and sodium could indicate a trend towards “hedonic eating”, which in turn can increase a person’s risk of gaining weight and body fat in early adulthood.

As Fazzino points out, the term “hedonic feeding” would refer to a eating focused on the consumption of rewarding foods, and not with the aim of satisfying physiological hunger. However, some people do not have the option of eating hyperpalatable foods.

In previous research, carried out by Fazzino together with his colleagues and published in Frontiers in Psychology, tried to discover when and how much are babies exposed to hyperpalatable foods and what effect do these have in long-term behavior.

In this case, that study concluded that up to a 90% of the 147 babies studied consumed hyperpalatable foods, mainly because they were fed adult products on a regular basis. Likewise, 12% of the foods marketed “for babies” also met the requirements of being hyperpalatable.

According to Fazzino, the fact expose babies so early to these types of rewarding foods and artificially enhanced would have consequences In the long term: the brain system could be modified, making it believe that real rewarding foods should be like that, when the reality is that they have been artificially modified and enhanced.

In the future, in young and old age, this early exposure could lead to an active search for this type of food. And ultimately be a predisposing factor early to end up suffering obesity.