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The Effects of Overeating

author image Jamie Simpson
Jamie Simpson is a researcher and journalist based in Indianapolis with more than 10 years of professional writing experience. She earned her B.S. in animal science from Purdue University and her Master of Public Affairs in public management from Indiana University. Simpson also works as a massage therapist and equine sports massage therapist.
The Effects of Overeating
A young boy is eating donuts. Photo Credit: moodboard/moodboard/Getty Images

Indulging a bit here and there may not seem like a big deal, but the effects of overeating are serious and impact multiple areas of life. While overeating is often made easy by society, the long-term costs outweigh the benefits of that extra bite, according to the “Journal of the American College of Nutrition.” Overeating has serious health and financial consequences that no one should overlook.

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Metabolic Effects

Overeating has a harmful effect on the body's metabolism. In the February 5, 2010 issue of "Cell," researchers at Harvard School of Public Health report that overeating may destroy your body's regular metabolic response. In your body there is a molecule called RNA-dependent protein kinase, or PKR. This molecule points out and fights viruses with other molecules, but researchers say that if you overeat, it also attacks metabolism. When you eat too much, excess nutrients attack cells that contain PKR, and its response is to fight back by shutting down metabolism because all of these extra nutrients are perceived as a threat. This can lead to metabolic disorders such as diabetes and obesity. Although the study was performed on mice, researchers state that it gives them a better understanding of PKR and helps educate on how diet affects disease.

Health Effects

Even short-term overeating has serious health effects, according to a 2009 Swedish study published in the journal "Molecular Medicine." Subjects in good health with lean body types were invited to consume high calorie diets for just four weeks, and researchers were able to link the overeating to the development of insulin resistance. Along with this short-term negative outcome, Medical News Today notes that cancer, heart problems and fatty liver disease are long-term effects of overeating.

Financial Effects

The financial effects of overeating are not insignificant. In a 2006 consumption study published by the "Journal of the American College of Nutrition," people at different levels of obesity found that the more overweight the participant, the greater the expenditures for everything from gasoline to health care. Using a single up-sized meal made larger for an average cost of 67 cents, the researchers were able to show that the additional weight caused by the overindulgence at meal time created additional personal costs of five cents per fill up on gasoline, 35 cents per subsequent meal for women and 36 cents per meal for men, and an additional estimated health cost of $6.64. The researchers concluded that the lifetime costs greatly outweighed the 67 cents of food value the up-sized meal delivered.

Fighting Overeating

It can be hard to resist temptation. Using a food diary, working with a nutritionist or seeking counseling about your eating habits can help you fight overeating, according to the “Journal of the American College of Nutrition.” It may not be easy, but there are metabolic, health and financial benefits to be reaped.

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