Cognitive-behavioral awareness is the future of nutrition

Understanding why we eat what we eat can have a positive impact on controlling eating behavior.  Eating behavior is an important factor involved with bodyweight and health issues.  Excess weight is associated with increased mortality, morbidity, cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, stroke, gallbladder diseases, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, respiratory problems, Alzheimer’s disease and some types of cancer.  According to The Ministry of Health, about 44% of Italians adults are overweight, with a little more than 10% being obese (we also have about 36% of children overweight with a 12% being obese). Eating behavior is an element of culture, ideational values, social gatherings, pleasure systems, identification and so on.  Food progresses from being a source of nutrition, to a sensory pleasure, an aesthetic experience, a source of meaning, and often a moral entity. And the importance of food and its relation to our everyday functioning cannot be overstated.  Food likes and dislike are often thought to play a huge role in eating behaviors.  Liking or the pleasure we derive from food may be one of the (if not the most important) factors contributing to food intake. Interviews with customers in supermarkets and restaurants have shown that people consider the sensory properties of food an important value influencing their choice of food purchased (if food is not perceived as appealing in terms of appearance, smell, taste, and texture it probably will not be eaten).  However, eating behavior cannot be predicted by likes/dislikes alone. There are a plethora of factors that contribute to eating behavior. These factors are often categorized as internal (biological, physiological) or external (environmental, non- physiological). The problem is. Are we cognizant of these factors? And if yes, to what extent? It has been suggested that we are often unaware of some of the external factors that influence eating behavior. There is a moderately sized body of research that shows external factors have a robust influence on eating behavior. Some researchers have suggested that external factors may play a larger role in eating behavior than internal factors (hunger, satiety, flavor, macronutrient content, etc). Are these factors below our awareness or do we fail to acknowledge these factors? As a matter of fact, many of our behaviors and thinking processes are influenced by factors for which we are not aware; it is well known that people often fail to accurately report the presence of various stimuli that affect their behavior and thinking.  And that individuals are sometimes unaware of the existence of a stimulus that influences their behavior, are unaware of the response, and are unaware that the stimulus has affected the response. Considering these findings and other similar findings, it is reasonable to suggest that eating behavior may be influenced by factors that are below our awareness. But, it is also important to pose the question: Are we not aware of these factors or do we choose not to aknowledge these factors? In regards to whether or not we are aware of factors that influence eating behavior, is it appropriate to suggest these seemingly unknowing factors are below awareness, or do we simply fail to acknowledge these factors? This is a key question.