Why eat

An adult eats about a tonne of food a year. This book attempts to answer the question 'why?' — by exploring the need for food and the uses to which that food is put in the body. Some discussion of chemistry and biochemistry is obviously essential in order to investigate the fate of food in the body, and why there is a continuous need for food throughout life. Therefore, in the following chapters various aspects of biochemistry and metabolism will be discussed. This should provide not only the basis of our present understanding, knowledge and concepts in nutrition, but also, more importantly, a basis from which to interpret future research findings and evaluate new ideas and hypotheses as they are formulated.

We eat because we are hungry. Why have we evolved complex physiological and psychological mechanisms to control not only hunger, but also our appetite for different types of food? Why do meals form such an important part of our life?

After reading this chapter you should be able to:

  • describe the need for metabolic fuels and, in outline, the relationship between food intake, energy expenditure and body weight;
  • describe in outline the importance of an appropriate intake of dietary fat;
  • describe the mechanisms involved in short-term and long-term control of food intake;
  • describe in outline the mechanisms involved in the sense of taste;
  • explain the various factors that influence people's choices of foods.

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