Every diet tells us to stay away from fast food, despite the fact that it contains some of the same ingredients that are supposed to be “good” for us. What is it about fast food that makes us fat? And why do some people become alcoholics, while others don?t?

The Medical Research Council says most fast food is high in fat and low in fiber, so it’s very dense in calories. In other words, you only need to eat a little in order to get a lot of calories, and since so much of it is “super sized,” we eat much more of it than we need.

A typical fast food meal is 1? times higher in calories than a typical meal. That means you’re eating too much, even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time. Researcher Professor Andrew Prentice says, “We all possess a weak innate ability to recognize foods with a high energy density. We tend to assess food intake by the size of the portion, yet a fast food meal contains many more calories than a similar-sized portion of a healthy meal.”

The latest issue of Consumer Reports points out that corn, which is subsidized by the U.S. government, is used to make the high fructose corn syrup that sweetens soft drinks, which is why they can be sold so cheaply. Consumer reports quotes nutritionist Marion Nestle as saying, “It may be that the body doesn’t compute [soft drink] calories in the same way; you don’t feel full.” Corn is also used in tacos and corn chips and as cattle feed, which is why hamburgers are so affordable.

There is circumstantial evidence of a genetic basis for alcoholism, because it seems to run in families and within races, especially those?like Native Americans?who did not invent any alcoholic drinks of their own. Others say the large amount of alcoholism and drug abuse in some cultures is due to social pressures. But geneticists have now found a gene for alcoholism in worms, so they may soon find one in man.

Researcher Steven McIntire gave worms plenty of booze, in order to discover which ones had a gene for alcoholism. They found that the worms who managed to stay sober had a mutated gene that made them immune to the effects of alcohol. He says, “Our end goal is to find a way to cure alcoholism and drug abuse. We hope to develop effective therapeutics to improve the ability of people to stop drinking.”

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