Admit it. You’ve eaten a little of someone else’s buttered popcorn at the movies even though you thought you hadn’t wanted any. And you’ve reached for more than one chocolate-nut cluster at you in-law’ house which, had the candy been out of sight, definitely would have been out of mind–let alone out of mouth.
But what if that popcorn had been a tub of lima beans and those clusters a bowl of watercress sprigs? Temptation probably wouldn’t have beckoned at all. Rather, your desire to eat was piqued by the sight and taste of the choices available. That is, your appetite made you do it.
Most people succumb to such temptations at least once in a while. Still, not everyone is affected in the same way and to the same degree by this elusive quality we call appetite, this ability to eat in the absence of hunger, or to choose between one food and another in the presence of hunger, or to produce pangs of hunger where perhaps a moment ago there had been none.
Some of us have our appetites more or less under control. That is, even though we may sometimes eat more than our bodies actually need, we manage to regulate the amount of food we take in over the long term, so that our weight remains about the same, although a little on the plump side in a number of cases.
Millions of Americans, on the other hand, are truly obese. And while that problem can result from, say, a lack of activity, for others it comes as a result of their having bitten off more than they should have been chewing, either a little bit day by day over an extended period of time or in “spurts.”
Unfortunately, the reasons some people’s appetites are “out of whack” remain sketchy, despite decades of intensive research on the “mechanism” of appetite. If we did know for certain what goes into the making of an overactive appetite, Americans would no longer find themselves spending $200 million a year on over-the-counter appetite suppressants such as PhenQ. And the epidemic of obesity in this country would have subsided rather than continued to grow, as it has.