What are the major correlates of macronutrient selection in Western populations?

  • De Castro J
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In order to better understand the factors that may influence and regulate the intake of the macronutrients carbohydrate, fat and protein a 7 d diet diary technique was employed to study eating behaviour in the natural environment of free-living human subjects. In general, factors that promote energy intake tend to promote fat and protein intake to a greater extent than carbohydrate intake. This increased intake occurs as the result of: environmental factors such as social facilitation and the time of day, week or lunar phase; subjective factors such as hunger and elation; individual difference factors such as obesity, restraint and ageing. There are indications that the intake of macronutrients is regulated by negative feedback systems. In the short term, the amount of protein remaining in the stomach at the onset of a meal appears to have a restraining effect on intake, especially protein intake. Over several days, macronutrient intake appears to be affected by a nutrient-specific delayed negative feedback. Protein intake during 1 d is negatively associated with protein intake 2 and 3 d later, while carbohydrate intake is negatively related to later carbohydrate intake, and fat intake to later fat intake; both peaking after a 2 d delay. Studies of the intakes of twins suggested that many aspects of the control of macronutrient intake are influenced by inheritance; these factors include the overall amounts ingested, the before-meal stomach contents and the responsiveness of the subject to the negative impact of the stomach contents. The results indicate that macronutrient intakes are regulated by multiple persistent processes that are to a large extent inherited. Eating behaviour: Meal pattern: Macronutrient intake: Hereditary influence At its most fundamental, diet selection is the selection of macro-and micronutrients. These nutrients are ingested in a wide variety of presenting forms. However, the types of foods available, preparation techniques and affordability of food types vary greatly between cultures and even within cultures during different times of the year. As a result, an understanding of the processes involved in the selection of particular food items would be highly culturally specific. Also, the physiological system has evolved to operate in order to produce adequate nutrition in the face of varying available diets. Hence, the present paper will be focused not on the superficial layer of intake regulation or item type selection, but on the deeper layer, the controls and con-sequences of macronutrient selection. The macronutrients carbohydrate, fat, protein and alcohol are the primary components of foods and are oxidized for energy. The total food energy ingested is the arithmetic sum of the energy supplied by each of these nutrients. It is possible that the system is designed simply to regulate the total food energy ingested, regardless of macronutrient source. On the other hand, the system could involve a separate regulation of each of the component nutrients. There have been a large number of laboratory studies investigating these issues (for example, see Mela, 1997; Thibault & Booth, 1999). However, the regulation of the intake of individual macronutrients by free-living human subjects has received little attention. It is relatively easy to demonstrate that a nutrient is regulated in a tightly-controlled laboratory situation where there are few other factors operating to influence intake. However, it is much more difficult to demonstrate such control with individuals in their varied complex normal environments, in which they

Author-supplied keywords

  • Eating behaviour
  • Hereditary influence
  • Macronutrient intake
  • Meal pattern

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  • John M. De Castro

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