John de Castro, dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Sam Houston State University, has been presented the 11th Award for Nutrition and Metabolism by the professional journal Nutrition.
“This award is presented for the most outstanding work directly relevant to the field of nutrition and metabolism published in Nutrition,” said Michael M. Meguid, M. D., a professor of surgery and neuroscience and the journal’s editor-in-chief.
De Castro received the award, which consisted of a plaque and $6,000, at an awards ceremony in Phoenix, Ariz., in January.
The manuscript that earned the recognition was entitled “Influence of heredity on dietary restraint, disinhibition, and perceived hunger in humans,” which was published in June 2005. De Castro has also submitted a manuscript concerning the circumstances and background of that research that will be published in the journal’s March 2007 edition.
“Dietary restraint, disinhibition, and perceived hunger have been shown to affect food intake and body weight and are thought to be risk factors for eating disorders, but little is known about origins,” said
de Castro. “We investigated the influence of heredity on these factors.”
The research was conducted on 149 sets of adult twins who lived apart.
“The tendency to hold back on eating, dietary restraint, is one of many influences on eating that are affected by heredity,” said de Castro. “On the other hand, some people lose control and overeat when they go off their diet just a little bit in a phenomenon called
disinhibition. This tendency is highly related to overweight and obesity and appears to be affected by how the person is raised and not by heredity.”
Since disinhibition may be a learned behavior that produces overweight, it may be a target for therapy to prevent obesity, he said.
In his upcoming publication, de Castro said he began his research as a psychologist studying portions of the brain that are concerned with emotion and motivation and their effect on behavior and mental processes.
After completing his master’s degree, he worked with researcher Saul Balagura, who specialized in the eating patterns of rats. That led to his current focus on the eating behavior of humans.
De Castro, who was a professor and chair of the Department of Psychology at the University of Texas at El Paso, was hired as a dean at Sam Houston State in April 2006. He taught and did research at Georgia State University from 1974 until August 2003.
His degrees include a bachelor of arts in psychology from Northeastern University (1969), and master’s (1973) and Ph. D. (1974) in psychology from the University of Massachusetts.