Research Paper Example for College Composition II

Instructor: Laura Foist

Laura has a Masters of Science in Food Science and Human Nutrition and has taught college Science.

After writing a research proposal you will need to write the research paper. This lesson offers a shortened example of the research paper with an explanation of what it does well.

The Research Paper

After writing a good research proposal you should already be well on your way to writing a great research paper. You've already written the paper outline (which should be included in the proposal), so that is a great start. Also, some of the research has already been conducted, you will simply need to add and synthesis more research to reach your conclusion and prove your thesis.

A research paper should have a clearly defined thesis statement, and then several points from your research to support that thesis statement. In English, this research is often a review of other primary research, but it could also be a report on your own primary research, (or a combination of both review and primary research).

Included here is an example of a research paper. This research paper is much shorter than what you are expected to write, but it still contains the necessary information for writing a great research paper:

  • Clearly stated thesis
  • Several pieces of evidence from research to support the thesis
  • Discussion of the evidence
  • Summary

Effects of Evolution, Environment, Genetics, and What We Eat on Food Choices

Introduction

Obesity has increased drastically in the last one hundred years (Mitchel et al. 2011). The United States reports that over one third of residents are obese (Ogden, 2015), it has become one of the great epidemics of our day. Obesity is a problem, so why do our bodies crave unhealthy foods so much? Why don't our bodies crave the foods that will make us healthy? We crave 'unhealthy foods' because food choices are affected by more than simply the nutrient needs of our bodies, but also by our evolutionary past, and our genetics.

Evolution of Food Choices

For centuries starvation was a common threat that much of mankind faced. Even if starvation wasn't an immediate concern, food was still much harder to come by than it is today. As recent as fifty years ago, people had to spend between 2-3 times more on food than we to today (USDA, 2017). Brown explains that this previous scarcity of food made our genes adapt in such a way to now cause our bodies to prefer high calorie foods (1991). Now that food is easily accessible the genes which were previously there to help us survive now cause us to choose foods which are unhealthy for us to eat.

Studies have shown that these genetics can change over time. By allowing fruit flies to choose either a high energy vs. high protein diet, after the course of 44 generations the fruit flies which picked the high protein diet (which resulted in healthier fruit flies) were more prevalent than the fruit flies which picked the high energy diet (Wallin, 1988).

Effect of Genetics on Food Choices

Our genetics have evolved to tell our bodies that high calorie foods are important. This translates to unhealthy food choices by having genes which tell our taste receptors that sweet foods are good. The PROP gene, and to a lesser extent the TAS2R38 gene, has been shown to greatly increase the acceptable rate of sweetness in food, the sweeter the food this more our body indicates it as 'good' food (Feeney, et al 2010).

A study on twins which compared food preference of twins when raised separately showed that genetics plays a role in preference for specific foods including fruits, vegetables and red meat (Teucher, et al 2007).

Effect of Food on Emotions

Several studies performed on rats have indicated that food affects how our brain reacts. A comparison of how a rat's brain reacts after consuming opium is very similar to how a rat's brain reacts after consuming sugar (Spangler, et al 2004). Also, rats that were fed a limited diet, low in protein (particularly when low in tryptophan), resulted in low levels of serotonin (Tackman, et al 1990).

Studies showing a change in brain chemistry based upon what rats ate have led researchers to study how food affects human emotions, to see how this affects what we eat. Eating can reduce 'bad' emotions such as anxiety (Canetti, et al 2002). When foods were given to participants and then they were asked to indicate which feelings were associated with that food, most foods elicited a positive response, instead of a negative response (Desmet and Schifferstein 2008).

Discussion

The rise in obesity has greatly increased over the last century. There are several contributing factors to this rise. The connection between what the body craves to eat, what is consumed, and obesity is important to understand when studying obesity and nutrition.

Public health concerns have changed in the past century. For most of history, the greatest public health concern was simply eating enough calories. Now that many people in developed countries can access plenty of calories, the greater concern is getting enough micronutrients with those calories and balancing the amount and types of food people eat. The evolution of the body hasn't changed to meet this new availability, we still have genes such as the TAS2R38 which increases the body's desire to consume more sweets, which leads to overeating and a lack of moderation.

What we eat affects how our brain responds. Studies with rats have suggested that eating high levels of sugar elicits an addictive-type response while diets low in essential amino acids elicit a reduced level of 'happiness hormones'. These studies, in connection with human studies that indicate that we correlate happy emotions with food, suggest that our brain is wired for us to eat food. When food is in abundance, as it is in developed countries, this makes it difficult for humans to control what they eat.

Understanding that genetics and brain chemistry is encouraging us to eat more high calorie dense foods helps explain why obesity has become such a big problem today. But, also understanding this, gives us hope because we have also seen that genetics can change, as we continue to have a high supply of food for several generations.

Conclusion

Current evidence of specific genes which increase our desire for sugar and the increased state of happiness in our brains indicates that genetics and evolution play a role in food choice. As such, a study of genetics is important to understanding obesity and how to better treat obesity.

References

Brown, P.J. 'Culture and the Evolution of Obesity' Human Nature 2 (1), 31-57, 1991

Canetti L, Bachar E, Berry Em. 'Food and Emotion' Behavioral Processes Vol 60 (2), 157-164, 2002.

Desmet PMA, Schifferstein HNJ. 'Sources of positive and negative emotions in food experience' Appetite Vol 50 (2-3), 290-301, 2008.

Feeney E, O'Brian S, Scannell A, Markey A, Gibney ER. 'Genetic Variation in Taste Perception: Does it have a role in Healthy Eating?' Proceedings of the Nutrition Society. Vol. 70, pp 135-143, 2011

Mitchell N, Catenacci V, Wyatt HR, Hill JO. 'Obesity: Overview of an Epidemic' Psychiatric Clinic North American Journal, vol. 34 no. 4, 2011

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