By Mark Dvoretsky
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Extra resources for Opening Developments
In the Western world, the term adolescence is often viewed as synonymous with bad decisions—early sexual encounters, reckless driving, parties without parental supervision, and other impulsive deeds 47 48 Keeping the Whole Child Healthy and Safe done without regard for consequences. We know that the teenage years are tumultuous, that middle schoolers teeter between childlike and adultlike behavior, and that high schoolers often push the limits of the rules. In The Romance of Risk, Lynn Ponton (1997) states that “risktaking is the major tool that adolescents use to shape their identities” (p.
We’ve made food into entertainment. These cultural effects lead to constant eating. The definition of overeating is eating more calories than you expend—more calories in than out. So you have a net weight gain. Take the average candy bar. You could eat those 300 calories in two or three minutes. But it could take an hour to work them off. The imbalance over the last 20–30 years has been on the intake side, which raises some questions: What’s going on? Why do people feel compelled to eat? And why is it so hard to stop?
Today it’s a fraction of that. Food goes down in a whoosh. It’s almost as though it’s predigested. It’s like we’re eating baby food all the time. We’re just constantly stimulating ourselves. We’re eating for reward—not for fuel or nutrition. What’s going on today is that combinations of fat, sugar, and salt stimulate the reward circuits and get us coming back for more. The reward centers of our brain regulate such behaviors as eating, drug use, and sexual reproduction. We can now look into the brain.
Opening Developments by Mark Dvoretsky