Tags: high | calorie | food | images

Food Images Boost Cravings

Thursday, 28 June 2012 02:25 PM

A picture may indeed be worth 1,000 words, at least when it comes to food cravings. New research has found viewing images of high-calorie foods and sugary drinks stimulates the appetite and triggers powerful reactions in the reward centers of the brain.
The result, according to University of Southern California researchers, can be strong cravings for high-calorie foods and sweetened drinks that can lead to obesity. The findings, presented at The Endocrine Society's 94th Annual Meeting in Houston this week, will likely come as no surprise to advertising specialists with the nation’s fast-food establishments and junk-food manufacturers.
"Studies have shown that advertisements featuring food make us think of eating, but our research looked at how the brain responds to food cues and how that increases hunger and desire for certain foods," said lead researcher Kathleen Page, a clinical medicine specialist at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. "This stimulation of the brain's reward areas may contribute to overeating and obesity, and has important public health implications."
Page and colleagues used MRI scans to monitor the brain activity of 13 obese teens and young women – aged 15 to 25 – in response to pictures of high-calorie foods, such as hamburgers, cookies, and cakes, and low-calorie foods such as fruits and vegetables. After seeing the images, the participants rated their hunger and desire for sweet or savory foods on a scale from one to 10.
Halfway through the tests, the women drank 50 grams of glucose — equivalent to a can of soda — and another time, they drank 50 grams of fructose. Glucose and fructose are the main components of table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup.
"We hypothesized that the reward areas in the women's brains would be activated when they were looking at high-calorie foods, and that did happen," said Page. "What we didn't expect was that consuming the glucose and fructose would increase their hunger and desire for savory foods."
The study was funded, in part, by the National Institutes of Health.

© HealthDay

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Images of high-calorie foods trigger powerful reactions in the reward centers of the brain.
Thursday, 28 June 2012 02:25 PM
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