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LSA Fellows 17 

Project titel: Driving factors of food choices in obese individuals

Projectleader: Dr. Emanuele Porcu & Merve Tas

    Porcu mini


Obesity is a widely diffused eating disorder characterized by an excessive intake of food, which increases the risk of developing other diseases such as diabetes or cardiac problems. According to the World Health Organization, in 2016, 39% of the adult population was overweight and 13% obese, while 41 millions of children under the age of 5 were either obese or overweight. Beyond the data, the life of an obese person is drastically influenced by her/his food choices. Such decisions constrain obese individuals into a spiral of unsafe habits that are difficult to interrupt. A closer look at this type of behaviors reveals a strong resemblance to common addictions (such as drugs and alcohol addictions). Thus, the need to identify the factors that drive these choices represents a fundamental step to create personalized and effective therapies. The project is subdivided in two related topics: The first topic focuses on the relationship between food and risk-taking. Specifically, the influence of palatable and less palatable tastants (glucose or caloric beverages such as milkshake) on the chance of taking risks in the obese population. The second topic is concerned with the decision making heuristics that guide unhealthy choices in obese individuals. In particular, this part of the project aims at unraveling the type of rule(s) that obese individuals might adopt to choose between healthy and unhealthy food.

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