Category Archives: Option A: Human Nutrition & Health

Are you replacing sleep with food? DBQ practice.

I came across this through Ed Yong’s weekly linklist, but @SciCurious often writes really interesting posts (Neurotic Physiology) on neurobiology. This one is particularly relevant to #IBBio students for a few reasons. First, you guys are up way too late, way too often. Second, it connects directly to our course – read this blog post (based on this paper), especially students working on option A: Nutrition, or anyone reviewing hormonal control.

Click for the graphs & article at the Neurotic Physiology blog.

Click for the graphs & article at the Neurotic Physiology blog.

Finally it is ripe for data-based question practice.

These graphs click-through to the originals posted at SciCurious’s blog. Here are some DBQ-style questions you might ask:

  • Calculate the difference in post-dinner snack energy intake between having a ‘normal’ 9h sleep and the sleep-deprived 5h condition. 
  • Compare the trend in energy expenditure throughout the day between 9h sleep and 5h sleep.
  • Describe the difference between 9h sleep and 5h in terms of eating patterns.
  • Evaluate the hypothesis that “when we sleep less, we eat more” based on the data provided and information in the article.
  • Explain the role of the appetite control centre of the brain on appetite, and suggest how it is affected by the conditions of the experiment.

Appetite Control: from the Wellcome Trust (‘The Anatomy of Appetite’ explainer page here).


So there you go – you learned something.

Get to bed. And leave the snacks in the fridge.

Biology4Good Charity Focus | Tree Aid


Yesterday I moved my Biology4good donations to a team. Since then, some of the charities have got in contact to share resources to encourage donations. First up: Tree Aid. Thanks Tom for the emails and for uploading this video to show the work they do – it is truly amazing and I am happy to be supporting them.

Serendipitously, the video focuses on the nutrional benefits of planting moringa trees to benefit communities, which ties in closely with the final unit for my own class, Option A: Human Nutrition & Health.

If you like what you see, please visit my TreeAid page and make a small donation.


King Corn – we are what we eat, drink and cook with

King Corn

King Corn

This film came out about a year ago, but I saw it for the first time on the History Channel a couple of days ago. A very enlightening view of the omnipresence of corn and corn-products in our food. From corn-fed beef to corn-starch and high-fructose corn syrup (boo!), industrial production of corn is in all facets of our diet.

In the film, two friends set out to produce an acre of corn and track how it grows and where is goes. Inspired by the Omnivore’s Dilemma and in tune with other recent super-docs (Super Size Me, Food Inc., The End of the Line), King Corn is a sensitive and educational film that manages not to stray into anti-industry polemic.

This extended clip from PBS shows the first 20-minutes of the movie:

It’s amazing to see that the corn farmers can’t even feed themselves with the corn they grow – it is not fit to be eaten! Instead it is bred and grown for maximum starch output. If you get a chance, watch it.

One impactful scene explains how high fructose corn syrup came to be and how it is made. Something to surely make you think twice about the contents of the processed foods we eat. Here’s a challenge – check the labels in the supermarket and see how may products contain it.

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