Instagram Affects Appetite? Study Finds Food Pics Might Sway Brain

Image: Instagram Affects Appetite? Study Finds Food Pics Might Sway Brain

Tuesday, 08 Oct 2013 06:59 PM

By Morgan Chilson

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Cruising through Instagram photos of food may squelch your appetite – which could be good for those on a diet but not so good for anyone looking forward to dinner.

A Brigham Young University study found that people who stared at food photos didn’t particularly want to then eat that food, a BYU release said. Researchers had one group look at 60 salty-food photos and another eye 60 photos of sweet foods. They then rated each picture on how appetizing it looked, and also rated their enjoyment of eating a snack of salty peanuts, BYU said.

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The result was that people who looked at the salty-food pictures, which did not include peanut pictures, enjoyed eating the peanuts less, BYU said.

“In a way, you’re becoming tired of that taste without even eating the food,” said study coauthor and BYU marketing professor Ryan Elder in a release. “It’s sensory boredom – you’ve kind of moved on. You don’t want that taste experience anymore.”

Co-author Jeff Larson, also a BYU marketing professor, said people wanting to enjoying an eating experience should avoid photos.

“Even I felt a little sick to my stomach during the study after looking at all the sweet pictures we had,” he said in the release.

So depending on your end goal – eating or not eating – it might be better to avoid salivating over all those yummy meals Instagram users insist on putting online. Yahoo reporter Daniel Bean proved that point by searching #bacon on the online photo sharing site and came up with a whopping 1,438,318 posts and #lunch pulled up 7,588,896 pictures.

Elder and Larson said the effect increases as you look at more pictures.

“It’s not like if you look at something two or three times you’ll get that satiated effect,” Elder said in the release.

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