Is fat and smart better than heavy and dumb?

"Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life," as Dean Wormer uttered in the all-time classic film Animal House but perhaps fat and smart is?

Researchers today said that in fact intellectual work induces a substantial increase in calorie intake. A research team at Université Laval in Quebec measured the food intake of 14 students after each of three tasks: relaxing in a sitting position, reading and summarizing a text, and completing a series of memory, attention, and vigilance tests on the computer. After 45 minutes at each activity, participants were invited to eat as much as they wanted from a buffet.

Perhaps it was the free food offered to the college students but despite the low energy cost of mental work, the students spontaneously consumed 203 more calories after summarizing a text and 253 more calories after the computer tests. This represents almost 24% and 30% increase, respectively, compared with the rest period.

"These fluctuations may be caused by the stress of intellectual work, or also reflect a biological adaptation during glucose combustion," said Jean-Philippe Chaput, the study's main author. "Caloric overcompensation following intellectual work, combined with the fact that we are less physically active when doing intellectual tasks, could contribute to the obesity epidemic currently observed in industrialized countries,"

The body could be reacting to these fluctuations by spurring food intake in order to restore its glucose balance, the only fuel used by the brain.

Or perhaps it is the stereotypical intellectual or geek diet that falls into three categories: high in calories, easy to make, and high in caffeine. Some favorites include hot pockets, ramen noodles, Jolt cola, take-out Chinese food, and pretty much any kind of chips.

The same research group earlier this year said people's sleep patterns affected their weight. That study said people getting six hours or less of shuteye nightly were more likely to become overweight or obese compared to those getting a solid eight hours of sleep. It also noted that getting nine or more hours of sleep were also more likely to become overweight.

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