The Loh Down On Science

Are foodie photos overindulgent?

Can foodie photographs ruin your appetite?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

The Internet spawns strange trends!  Like:  The fad of posting pictures of our meals.  Odd but popular!

Marketing researchers at Brigham Young University were curious.  Does food Tweeting make us hungry for that food?  Does it create: sensory stimulation?  And, if so, can we feel full just from looking at pictures? 

To find out, they had college students view pictures of food.  Either sweet foods like chocolates, or salty foods, like fries.  The students rated each image on how appetizing they found it.

Next, each student ate peanuts.  Then they rated the peanuts’ taste.  Result?  Students who viewed salty food enjoyed the peanuts less than those who viewed sweet food.

The pictures likely generated sensory simulations of either salty or sweet tastes.  This sated the appetite for that flavor.  So students who saw salty foods and then ate peanuts?  They were, essentially, already full.

The researchers say this idea could help people kick cravings.  For example, get over chocolate by staring at it.

Oh sure, that will work.  Pass me the brownies.

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The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, in partnership with the University of California, Irvine, and 89.3 KPCC. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.


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