Cafe Scientifique Orlando is a gathering of scientifically-inclined people in Central Florida, who meet at a cafe, coffee house, pub, or nonacademic location to discuss events and ideas in the world of science. We enjoy beer and wine, and we use plain language to talk about extraordinary ideas.

Full Title: 
Why Are We Fat? The Visibility of Food and the Invisibility of Calories
Leiberman, Leslie
Wednesday, 2 May 2012 - 7:00pm - 9:00pm
717 W. Smith Street
Postal Code:
United States

More than any other time in our evolutionary history, much of the world’s population is living in environments of food abundance in which it is impossible to perceive or impute the caloric density of the foods we eat. Visual food cues are everywhere in obesogenic environments and these catalyze reflexive cognitive, physiological and behavioral responses leading to a desire to eat and food intake. Over the last 2 decades, there has been an increasing norm for larger portion sizes which are not detected by visceral feedback and size alone is a poor measure of the caloric density of foods. Many modernizing trends distance people from food production, preservation, packaging and preparation so that traditional cues involving these activities by which energy density, or some proxy, might be inferred are no longer experienced. Furthermore, food technology and marketing have led to a wide range of deceptions regarding the caloric density of food by reducing fiber and water content and adding excessive amounts of fat and sugar. We cannot trust either vision or taste to detect caloric content. For example, diet beverages use non-caloric sweeteners and fat-free pastries may have nearly the same mouth-feel and caloric content as the standard preparation. Increasing the visibility of calories is one approach to potentially decreasing food intake and curbing the obesity pandemic. One suggestion is to use the universal traffic color code with red for high, yellow for medium and green for low caloric densities. Examples of this approach in the UK and Australia will be discussed and a new symbol “Cal” will be introduced.

Leslie Sue Lieberman, Ph.D., is a biomedical anthropologist and the founding Director of the Women’s Research Center, Emerita Professor of Anthropology (June 2011) and Courtesy Professor of Medical Education at the University of Central Florida. She currently holds a position as a European Union Visiting Scholar. She is a founding member of the Orlando Cafe Scientifique. Most of her research is centered on obesity and diabetes among US minority populations. She is the former President of the Society for the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition and the Biological Anthropology Section of the American Anthropological Association, both the UCF and UF Chapters of Sigma Xi, the Florida Academy of Sciences and of the National Association of Academies of Science/AAAS. Her research and scientific activities have been supported by NIH, NSF, HRSA, NIMH and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, Diabetes Research and Education Foundation, Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, the Florida Humanities Council, and private industry. She has co-authored or edited 11 books and published over 75 journal articles and book chapters and more than 200 other works: reports, reviews, and editorials.

Past Café Scientifique Events

Race to the Moon 18 November, 2014 - 18:30 downtown library
Good Bacteria 9 September, 2014 - 18:30 downtown library
Marine Ecosystems 8 August, 2014 - 18:30 downtown library
Solar System 7 July, 2014 - 18:30 downtown library
Robotics 6 June, 2014 - 18:30 downtown library
Cloud Computing 13 May, 2014 - 18:30 downtown library
Nanoscience 8 April, 2014 - 18:30 downtown library
Fire Ants 11 March, 2014 - 18:30 downtown library
Food Preservation 5 March, 2014 - 19:00 Eden Bar at...
Marine Mammals 11 February, 2014 - 18:30 downtown library
Bees 14 January, 2014 - 18:30 downtown library
Frankenfood 10 December, 2013 - 18:30 downtown library

Topics We'd Love to See

What are some topics you’d like to have? Tell us in your comments below. See our full schedule to know what we’ve had and plan to have, before adding something new.

Additionally, if you are a scientific expert interested in presenting a topic, please email us.