Foods that are both fatty and sweet can hijack the part of the brain that regulates food consumption

Foods that are both fatty and sweet can hijack the part of the brain that regulates food consumption, by Melissa Healy.

It may have taken thousands of generations of hunting, gathering, farming and cooking to get here. But in the end, the genius of humankind has combined fats and carbohydrates to produce such crowning culinary glories as the doughnut, fettuccine Alfredo, nachos and chocolate cake with buttercream frosting.

It goes without saying that these delectables do not exist in nature. It turns out combinations of carbohydrates and fats generally do not exist in the landscape in which man evolved.

Neither, new research finds, does the human capacity to intuit the caloric content of such gustatory delights. Instead, the human brain, when confronted with food products that combine fat and carbohydrates, responds with a surge of motivation that outstrips the response elicited by foods that are high in fat only or in carbohydrates only.

Our brains fail to estimate calories properly when the food has both fat and sugar.

So long as concoctions that combine fat and sugar call out to us from food shelves, shop windows, television screens and menus, we’re vulnerable to our most primal instincts, which have not evolved to ignore, dislike or say no to these products of human invention.

Sugar was rare in our evolutionary past, but we deal with fat just fine. So cut down on sugar and eat as much fat as you want.