Mastering the Seven Ages of Appetite for Aging and Staying Healthy

Do we eat to live or do we live to eat? We have a complicated relationship with food, influenced by its cost, accessibility, and even by pressure from those around us. But we all have one thing in common: appetite, that is, our desire to eat.

THEIncreased appetite can have a physical or psychological cause, and hunger (the way our body signals us that it needs food) is not the only cause. After all, we often eat without feeling hungry and sometimes skip meals despite our empty stomachs. Recent research shows that the abundance of food-related stimuli in our environment (smells, sounds, advertisements) is one of the main causes of overconsumption.

Our food choices are important to our health and well-being throughout our lives, so it is important to develop good habits. However, not only can our appetite be influenced, it is also not immutable. It changes as we get older, and there are seven "ages of appetite."

Understanding these phases better could help us develop new ways to tackle undernutrition and overconsumption, and their health effects, such as obesity.

First decade, 0-10 years

In early childhood, the body grows very quickly. Eating behavior adopted early in life can have long-term consequences: an overweight child is likely to remain so into adulthood. When children are reluctant to eat, meals can be a real test for them and for their parents. But by making them taste everything regularly, in a positive spirit, we can accustom the little ones to essential foods, such as vegetables.

Another important point: children should keep control over the size of the portions they swallow. If they are forced to "finish their plate," they may lose their ability to listen to their appetite and the hunger signals sent to them by their bodies, which can lead them to overeat later.

In addition, more and more countries are calling for avoiding exposing young children to advertisements for products that are too fatty or too sweet, not only on television but also in smartphone applications and on the Internet. Indeed, these spots encourage overconsumption and contribute to the increase in the number of overweight children.

It is important to get children used to eating well at an early age.
Sharomka / Shutterstock

Second decade, 10-20 years

In adolescence, increased appetite and growth spurts caused by hormones herald the onset of puberty and the transition to adulthood. The way a teenager eats will influence his future lifestyle. This means that the food choices these young people make will have a direct impact on the health of their own children. Unfortunately, if not well advised, teens sometimes adopt harmful behaviors and food preferences.

Further studies are needed to determine the most effective ways to address the problem of over-nutrition and under-nutrition, particularly related to to poverty and social inequalities. In general, young women are more prone to deficiencies than men because of the functioning of their reproductive system. Pregnant teens are at even greater risk because their bodies have to support both their own growth and that of their fetus.

Third decade, 20-30 years

In young adults, lifestyle changes such as pursuing higher education, marriage or married life and parenthood can lead to weight gain.

Those extra pounds are often difficult to lose: the body sends out powerful hunger signals when we are not eating enough, but the signals that warn us that we are eating too much are much weaker. Many physiological and psychological factors make it difficult to force yourself to eat less in the long term.

Recent research is looking at ways to develop the feeling of satiety, that is, the impression of having eaten enough. This is useful when trying to lose weight, since hunger is one of the main difficulties to overcome when you want to eat less than what the body needs, and thus create a calorie deficit.

Food does not send the same messages to the brain. It's easy to gobble up a whole pot of ice cream, for example, because fat doesn't send signals to get us to stop eating. On the other hand, foods rich in protein, water or fiber give us a more important and lasting feeling of satiety. By working with the food industry, we can imagine developing new foods or snacks capable of affecting satiety.

Fourth decade, 30-40 years

Abdominal fat or "brioche" often appears around the age of 40.
Umit Urdem / Shutterstock

Active life also brings its share of complications: a rumbling stomach, of course, but also the effects of stress, which affect the appetite and eating behavior of 80% of people. Some people force-feed, others lose their appetite. These contrasting reactions are intriguing: the phenomenon of “food addiction”, this irrepressible desire to eat specific foods, often rich in calories, is still poorly understood. Many researchers even question its existence. Character traits like perfectionism and thoroughness could also play a role in stress management and eating behavior.

Rethinking the workplace so as to avoid the development of problematic eating habits such as snacking and the use of vending machines is a real challenge. Employers should fund campaigns for healthy eating and stress management to ensure the well-being and productivity of their employees.

Fifth decade, 40-50 years

We are creatures of habit. We tend to give in to them, even when we know them to be bad. We are thus reluctant to change our diet, even though it is not dietetic. However, the word dietetic comes from the Greek morning which means "way of life". But despite everything, we want to continue to eat what we like without having to change the way we live. While keeping a healthy mind in a healthy body ...

Diet can be a major contributor to poor health. According to the World Health Organization, smoking, an unbalanced diet, sedentary lifestyle and alcoholism are the lifestyle factors that have the most more impact on health and mortality.

It is during this decade that adults should change their behavior in the direction most favorable to their health. But the symptoms of poor health (high blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.) are often invisible, and do not encourage action.

As we age, it is essential to eat healthy and sufficiently. However, often, we no longer feel the urge.
Kristo-Gothard Hunor / Shutterstock

Sixth decade, 50-60 years

La gradual loss of muscle mass (0,5 to 1% per year from the age of XNUMX) continues throughout our old age. This phenomenon, called sarcopenia, is accelerated by decreased physical activity, insufficient protein intake and menopause in women.

A varied and balanced diet and regular physical activity are essential to mitigate the effects of aging. However, the current supply does not make it possible to meet the demand of an aging population in search of tasty, inexpensive food. high in protein.

High protein snacks could be the ideal solution, but there are currently few suitable products.

Seventh decade, 60-70 years and beyond

In view of the increase in life expectancy, one of the main current challenges is to manage to maintain the quality of life of the elderly, at the risk of creating a society of the disabled.

Eating properly is all the more important as old age causes loss of appetite and even a reduction in the feeling of hunger, leading to weight loss and therefore greater fragility. Appetite can also be affected by illnesses like Alzheimer's.

Without teeth, without eyes, without taste, without anything: old age according to Jacques.
William Hodges / Wikimedia

Eating is also a form of social interaction, which can be affected by factors such as insecurity, widowhood or the loss of loved ones. The fact of taking meals alone affects the pleasure that we experience in eating ... To which can be added certain physical effects of aging, such as difficulty in swallowing, problems with teeth, partial loss of taste and smell. “Without teeth, without eyes, without taste, without anything. », Or the old age described by the melancholy Jacques in Shakespeare's play As you would like...

Throughout our lives, the food we eat is not just fuel. Food is also a social act and a daily cultural experience. We should therefore view each meal as a chance to enjoy what we eat, and appreciate the positive effects of healthy food on our health.


Translated from English by Iris Le Guinio for Fast for WordThe Conversation

Alex johnstone, Personal Chair in Nutrition, The Rowett Institute, University of Aberdeen

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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