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Going the whole hog

india Updated: Nov 11, 2007 22:09 IST

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The advantages of the discovery of a ‘hunger switch’ in humans are many, but away from its scientific role, such a discovery does elicit a degree of panic — at least, among the foodies of the world. It may be being cruel, but nowadays, hunger has little to do with what, or how much, the privileged eat. We’re clearly not talking here of poor people who go hungry — for their hunger has nothing to do with scientifically manipulating any switch.

At the other extreme, we have those who have never flirted with hunger. In fact, new mothers are ready with a loaded platter and then some before the child can even begin to feel hungry. And any mother worth her spices will swear by her oven on one matter. That the ‘hunger switch’ lies masked among the items on the dinner plate. Vegetables can turn the switch off, cheesy pasta can rapidly turn the switch on. Nothing offputting about roti-dal, but some kebabs can change the pace of events, as it were. No longer do we live in the days where the family’s menu consisted of two choices: take it or leave it.

On a more serious note, the molecular hunger switch essentially triggers activity in that portion of the brain that regulates appetite. So, manipulating this can help create an appetite in terminally ill patients who might simply be wasting away, and conversely kill appetite in the obese.

Only, modern-day obesity has as much to do with greed and lack of control than any switch that doesn’t get turned off. Nonetheless, to think that the glory of bingeing is just a flick of a switch can make the diet look terribly unappetising. On the other hand, such wisdom might just inspire us to hog away.