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Some More Susceptible To Images Of Delicious Food

by | Jan 7, 2009

A study published today in the Journal of Neuroscience indicates that certain individuals are more susceptible to images of appetizing food, making them hungrier and raising their risk of overeating.

The study

Scientists at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine the neural network connections of people either more or less sensitive to images of delicious looking desserts. The most sensitive individuals had stronger brain connections between regions known to be involved in impulse and reward circuitry.

Also, the degree of a person’s sensitivity predicted how much he or she wants to eat after seeing appetizing food, and can affect overeating even in the absence of hunger.

This study is the first to examine the neural networks involved in food suggestibility in humans, but it supports similar findings reported in rodents.

The implication is that some people may be much more strongly influenced by food advertising than others, a phenomenon that can trigger overeating and ultimately weight gain.

What does this mean for you?

My guess is that you know whether or not you are someone who is deeply affected by images of food. This might suggest it is in your best interest to actively avoid watching commercials and flipping through glossy food magazines (and blogs) with images of decadent foods.

If you really enjoy food publications (I hope you do!) you could try switching to something like Cook’s Illustrated, where the images are technical rather than appetizing. The best alternative, however, may be to only tune in to those media sources that make healthy food look delicious, like this blog!

I definitely won’t be offering up pictures of chocolate cake and cookies in the near future.

What do you think, are you deeply affected by images of food and does it make it difficult for you to control what you eat?

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