Why do we like unhealthy food so much?

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Couldn’t our biological organisms just prefer the healthy food? It would give us larger chance of survival so genes preferring healthy food should be more popular.

In: Biology

20 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

We don’t like unhealthy food. We just like food, and now that we have access to too much food, we end up eating in excess.   

Biology has driven us to *like food* because that helps survival. Eating so called “unhealthy” doesn’t kill you before you are old enough to procreate, and biology only cares about survival of the species. What happens to you as an individual after procreation doesn’t matter. Species is still surviving.

Anonymous 0 Comments

We’ve boiled down fruits to pure sugar and made candy. We’ve broken down meat and wheat into fat and flour and made pizza and burgers.

Unhealthy foods *are* healthy foods, just a more available, efficient and densely packed version.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Because our brains were not designed or evolved for the modern age. Taste, much like smell, has been an evolutionary mechanism that allows our brain to determine what is “good” and what is “bad.” Rotten and spoiled foods taste bad because our brain has hardwired us to recognize that these foods are dangerous, they can get us sick, don’t eat it. However, good foods taste good because it is full of energy which our brain associated with “good” because it was hardwired for us to be active all day with hunting for food or migrating to new locations with no guarantee you would find any more. However, in our modern world, most of us have no need for that much energy anymore so all of that energy that isn’t used gets stored as fat for our body to use at a later time, but having too much fat causes a large variety of issues which is why it is unhealthy.

Anonymous 0 Comments

It’s not that we love unhealthy foods, it’s that we tend to overconsume the foods we love. Sugar and carbohydrates are fantastic sources of energy for our bodies, so we crave them and want more. Salt is a necessary nutrient, so we want it and crave more. When supply is limited, going after these foods is the correct response. Most people in modern societies have access to a nearly unlimited supply of a variety of foods, if we aren’t conscious about our choices, we’ll overconsume those “high priority” types of foods.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Partly biology, partly busy lifestyles, party multi-billion dollar food industry tailoring every single food to stimulate our senses

Anonymous 0 Comments

Our bodies were designed on the basis that food wasn’t readily available in a building at any given time of the day.

So, it made perfect sense that, if you lived in a cave, there would be periods of bad weather etc that would prevent us from being able to hunt and gather. So, our bodies evolved to steer us towards the most efficient way of getting the most calories from the least input.

And it all worked really well, until of course we had supermarkets, cars and desk jobs.

Our bodies still want to eat as if they’re facing periods of time in the absence of food but that time never comes in our modern world.

That’s why intermittent fasting works so well for weight loss and/or management. It’s literally what our bodies were built to do

Anonymous 0 Comments

Fast food industry spent billions of dollars to find ways to fool people’s food preferences.

Given enough resources you can fool any system. Human’s food preferendes are a complex system, but as we can see, it has been hacked.

Dollars and labs make unhealthy but addictive food faster than people die of strokes due to unhealthy food. So, the process continues.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Saw an interesting study a few years ago on rats. They split them into 3 groups, fed one on 100% fat, the second on 100% sugar and the third on a 50/50 mixture of fat and sugar. The rats in the first 2 groups were able to regulate their calorie intake – but the third group gained significant weight. You wouldn’t tuck into a bag of sugar or a stick of butter – but mix them 50/50 with a bit of flour and you have a cake! But there’s nothing in nature that has this mix so we have no natural mechanism to limit our intake.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Hey OP good timing. This article was out in yesterdays NYTimes and I think it really does a good job of answering your question – particularly the Cheesecake Park experiment with the rats was eye opening, yet really reflected my eating patterns and junk food. [https://www.nytimes.com/2024/05/07/opinion/ozempic-weight-loss-drugs.html](https://www.nytimes.com/2024/05/07/opinion/ozempic-weight-loss-drugs.html)

One scientific experiment — which I have nicknamed Cheesecake Park — seemed to me to crystallize this effect. Paul Kenny, a neuroscientist at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, grew up in Ireland. After he moved in 2000 to the United States, when he was in his 20s, he gained 30 pounds in two years. He began to wonder if the American diet has some kind of strange effect on our brains and our cravings, so he [designed an experiment](https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20348917/) to test it. He and his colleague Paul Johnson raised a group of rats in a cage and gave them an abundant supply of healthy, balanced rat chow made out of the kind of food rats had been eating for a very long time. The rats would eat it when they were hungry, and then they seemed to feel sated and stopped. They did not become fat.

But then Dr. Kenny and his colleague exposed the rats to an American diet: fried bacon, Snickers bars, cheesecake and other treats. They went crazy for it. The rats would hurl themselves into the cheesecake, gorge themselves and emerge with their faces and whiskers totally slicked with it. They quickly lost almost all interest in the healthy food, and the restraint they used to show around healthy food disappeared. Within six weeks, their obesity rates soared.

After this change, Dr. Kenny and his colleague tweaked the experiment again (in a way that seems cruel to me, a former KFC addict). They took all the processed food away and gave the rats their old healthy diet. Dr. Kenny was confident that they would eat more of it, proving that processed food had expanded their appetites. But something stranger happened. It was as though the rats no longer recognized healthy food as food at all, and they barely ate it. Only when they were starving did they reluctantly start to consume it again.

Though Dr. Kenny’s study was in rats, we can see forms of this behavior everywhere. We are all living in Cheesecake Park.

Anonymous 0 Comments

The human race has spent generations not dying. The way you do this if food is scarce is to eat as much high energy density food as you can. Thats fats, carbs (sugar), and proteins. Doing so maximizes the likelihood that you dont starve to death, and the likelihood that you can chase to exhaustion the next thing to eat.

This works great when you are running the equivalent of a half marathon every day to find the food, but when you have to schedule exercise into your day and can just drive down to the local Wendie’s to get all the carb loaded fatty proteins you want, it tends to make fat people. Your body’s response to being fat is “Woohoo! We are Fat! This is good! We are doing things right! We wont starve this winter!!!” and through much of human history a Fat Body has been seen as the pinnacle of beauty.

It just also happens to cause health problems later in life AFTER the peek reproductive years (when evolutionarily it doesnt matter)