Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Food Reward: a Dominant Factor in Obesity, Part VII

Now that I've explained the importance of food reward to obesity, and you're tired of reading about it, it's time to share my ideas on how to prevent and perhaps reverse fat gain.  First, I want to point out that although food reward is important, it's not the only factor.  Heritable factors (genetics and epigenetics), developmental factors (uterine environment, childhood diet), lifestyle factors (exercise, sleep, stress) and dietary factors besides reward also play a role.  That's why I called this series "a dominant factor in obesity", rather than "the dominant factor in obesity".
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Antsy McClain And The Trailer Park Troubadours

If you love trailers and the trailer life, there is a good chance that you've heard and seen Antsy McClain and the trailer park troubadours.  Ron (aka: Antsy) and I have been emailing back and forth for about a year to see if we would be in the same general area in our travels.  This time, it worked.  We happened to be at the birthplace of Airstream, Jackson Center, Ohio.  This was the perfect time for a photo shoot.  He brought along his son who I wanted to photograph as well as soon as I met him.  What a great father/son duo.

I was happy that Ron asked me to take portraits of him in  my "style."  He wrote me a note a long time ago commenting on my photographs so I was thrilled to finally meet him in person and do a shoot in the back lot of the Airstream Factory.  He noticed an Airstream that has seen better days and lucky for us, the door was open to do a shoot inside.

He's very entertaining on the stage and off including a very sharp wit and friendliness that is contagious. He travels all over the USA to perform so he may be in your city right now.   Check out his music and schedule HERE.

Thank you Ron for being such a wonderful subject to photograph.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Drug Cessation and Weight Gain

Commenter "mem", who has been practicing healthcare for 30+ years, made an interesting remark that I think is relevant to this discussion:
Recovering substance dependent people often put on lots of weight and it is not uncommon for them to become obese or morbidly obese.
This relates to the question that commenter "Gunther Gatherer" and I have been pondering in the comments: can stimulating reward pathways through non-food stimuli influence body fatness?  

It's clear that smoking cigarettes, taking cocaine and certain other pleasure drugs suppress appetite and can prevent weight gain.  These drugs all activate dopamine-dependent reward centers, which is why they're addictive.  Cocaine in particular directly inhibits dopamine clearance from the synapse (neuron-neuron junction), increasing its availability for signaling.
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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Alumapalooza 2011 Photograph Slideshow Video

There were so many favorite photographs from the event to list each on the blog so I put together a little video with some of the wonderful people I met in Jackson Center, Ohio a few weeks ago.

A big thank you to all who allowed me to photograph you with your family, including your dogs and cats. I look forward to next year!

All of these photos are available to purchase by clicking on my website here at www.AlisonTurnerPhoto.com

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Food Reward: a Dominant Factor in Obesity, Part VI

Reward Centers can Modify the Body Fat Setpoint

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter (chemical that signals between neurons) that is a central mediator of reward and motivation in the brain.  It has been known for decades that dopamine injections into the brain suppress food intake, and that this is due primarily to its action in the hypothalamus, which is the main region that regulates body fatness (1).  Dopamine-producing neurons from reward centers contact neurons in the hypothalamus that regulate body fatness (2).  I recently came across a paper by a researcher named Dr. Hanno Pijl, from Leiden University in the Netherlands (3).  The paper is a nice overview of the evidence linking dopamine signaling with body fatness via its effects on the hypothalamus, and I recommend it to any scientists out there who want to read more about the concept.
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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Alumapalooza 2011

It was that time of year again.  A time where all of the many dedicated Airstream owners come together at the birthplace of Airstream in Jackson Center, Ohio.
In the course of a week, the open field in the back of the plant transforms into a small community of people with their common love of Airstream trailers.

This was my second year of documenting the event for Airstream and Airstream Life.  I have been looking forward to it for months.  The airstream owners are like my second family.  Everyone is so down to earth and friendly.  Because of this event, I've met some people that will be lifelong friends.

Many of the people I met last year were here again but there were many new faces added to the mix.  For the entire 5 days I was there, I would circle the property several times, walking through rows and rows of Airstream trailers looking for people outside and the door open so I could photograph them.

Some came to me with their framed photos from last year and so many people told me what an inspiration I was to them.  One woman said that she was there, traveling with her dog because of me.  It was flattering but mostly I felt so happy that she was realizing a dream for herself.

I am truly grateful to have been able to be a part of such a fun event and be among a wonderful community of people.  I look forward to seeing your faces next year!  A big thank you to Rich and Brett (shown bottom right) who managed to coordinate each moment.

Here are a few photos from the festivities.  As you will see in the event album, I tend to gravitate towards animals and love to document the relationship between owners and their pet.

To see all images from the festivities with purchase options, click HERE.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Food Reward: a Dominant Factor in Obesity, Part V

Non-industrial diets from a food reward perspective

In 21st century affluent nations, we have unprecedented control over what food crosses our lips.  We can buy nearly any fruit or vegetable in any season, and a massive processed food industry has sprung up to satisfy (or manufacture) our every craving.  Most people can afford exotic spices and herbs from around the world-- consider that only a hundred years ago, black pepper was a luxury item.  But our degree of control goes even deeper: over the last century, kitchen technology such as electric/gas stoves, refrigerators, microwaves and a variety of other now-indispensable devices have changed the way we prepare food at home (Megan J. Elias.  Food in the United States, 1890-1945). 

To help calibrate our thinking about the role of food reward (and food palatability) in human evolutionary history, I offer a few brief descriptions of contemporary hunter-gatherer and non-industrial agriculturalist diets.  What did they eat, and how did they prepare it? 
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