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​SSS in the News | Big battle to beat the bulge: Losing weight the healthy way

Published on: 10-Dec-2018

The Straits Times, page D1 

The brain works in a way that can scupper diet plans, as a recent NTU study on compensatory health beliefs has found. The research showed that people are likely to snack less if they anticipate eating a meal that is healthy and filling later in the day. But if the impending meal is portrayed as "healthy" because it is significantly lower in calories – instead of one that is healthy because it contains essential vitamins and antioxidants, for instance – participants have a greater tendency to snack more before that. "The conflict occurs because restrained eaters have two polarising goals – one to be healthy and achieve a healthy weight and another to consume delicious, indulgent food," said Dr Aaron Sim, a research fellow at NTU's SSS, who worked on the study with Asst Prof Bobby Cheon, a psychology professor at the same school. Asst Prof Cheon said, "The harder you try to lose weight, the more you want to compensate for your efforts. People with goals to restrain what and how much they eat may be trying to balance pleasure with pain. The issue with this is that they may overindulge." People can be more aware of their compensating indulgence mindset, which is stronger among those who monitor their diet more, said the authors of the study, who are affiliated with the Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences, a branch of A*STAR. 

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