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  • Biology of Eating and Digestion

    • Digestion of Foods

    • Integrated Fuel Metabolism

    • Set-Point Theory and Neural Control of Energy Balance

  • Methods to Assess Energy Balance

    • Assessing Caloric Intake

    • Assessing Caloric Content of Foods

    • Assessing Energy Expenditure

    • Assessing Body Composition

      • Anthropometric Analysis

      • Hydrodensitometry

      • Air Displacement Plesmography

      • Absorptiometry

      • Computerized Tomography

      • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR)

      • Electrical Impedance

      • Total Body Water

    • Assessing Physical Activity

  • Biology of Obesity

    • Obesity Risk: Genes, Epigenetics, and Fetal Environment

  • Toxicity Related to Excess Caloric Intake/Obesity

    • Adaptation of Liver and Adipose Tissue to Excess Calories

    • Ectopic Fat Deposition

    • Metabolic Syndrome

    • Therapeutic Options for Managing Metabolic Syndrome

    • Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH)

    • Alteration in Drug Pharmacokinetics and Metabolism in Obesity and NAFLD

    • Endocrine Dysfunction in Obesity, Metabolic Syndrome, and NAFLD

    • Obesity and Cancer Risk

  • Health Benefits and Life Extension Associated with Caloric Restriction

  • Treatment of Obesity

    • Lifestyle Modification: Dieting and Exercise

    • Toxic Effects of Dieting

    • Drug Therapy for Weight Loss

    • Surgical Interventions

  • Economic, Sociological, and Legal Aspects of the Obesity Epidemic

    • Health Insurance and Obesity

    • Changing the Environment: Family and Community Approaches to Healthy Eating and Physical Activity

    • Food Labels

    • Governmental and Corporate Issues

Biology of Eating and Digestion

All biotic organisms derive energy from food to sustain life and this energy “drives” various cellular functions, including digestion, metabolism, pumping blood, and muscle contractions. Nutrients can broadly be defined as chemical substances found in food that are necessary for proper growth and development, reproduction, and repair following injury. Based on their chemical nature, nutrients can be grouped into organic (carbon-containing) and inorganic classifications. Carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and vitamins comprise the former, while minerals and water are inorganic nutrients essential for life (Stipanuk, 2006). Inorganic nutrients such as minerals can be absorbed into the body through food and are generally incorporated into the food chain through environmental sources (soil, water). Minerals comprise ~4% of the body weight in humans and in combination with water furnish a major part of the obligatory milieu necessary for cellular functioning (pH, osmolarity). Macrominerals are those whose abundance is generally 0.01% of body weight or daily required amounts exceed 100 mg per day. Calcium, phosphorous, sodium, and magnesium fall in this group. Other minerals that are not as abundant can be equally important for an organism. Trace minerals are defined as minerals whose concentration is <0.01% of total body weight. Other alternative definitions include nutrients whose requirements are below 1 ppm. Iron, zinc, copper, iodine, selenium, and molybdenum are six essential trace elements with established recommended dietary allowances. Overall, trace nutrients perform a variety of important functions, including transport of oxygen (iron as a part of hemoglobin), catalysis of biological reactions as component of enzymes (iron, zinc), and as part of other organic molecules (selenocysteine). While inorganic compounds serve important roles in physiology, the energy in food is derived from metabolism of organic substances. Organic compounds are generally synthesized by living cells from simpler molecules. For example, green plants and marine phytoplankton utilize photosynthesis to convert the very simple molecule carbon dioxide into more complex, energy-rich compounds such as carbohydrates using the energy from the sunlight. Because most bacteria and higher organisms cannot carry out photosynthesis, they derive their energy by metabolism of preformed organic molecules, such as carbohydrates. In general, bacteria utilize simpler organic molecules and animals and humans require more complex macronutrients (proteins, fats, and carbohydrates) to meet their needs.

Digestion of Foods

Common foods are a complex matrix and before the nutrients in food can be utilized they invariably need to undergo digestion. The process of digestion is a remarkable orchestration of many complex biochemical and physiological events, which occurs throughout the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, involving mechanical and chemical breakdown of food into simpler nutrients that are amenable for absorption. The upper GI tract consists of oral cavity, esophagus, and stomach. Breakdown of food begins in the mouth via the actions of enzymes in saliva. Movement of food between sections of the GI tract is restricted via sphincters or valves. In the stomach, food is acted upon ...

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