Tags: tough | times | high | cal | food

Tough Times Boost High-Calorie Food Appeal

Thursday, 24 January 2013 10:05 AM

Bad economic news may affect your waistline as well as your pocketbook. That’s the upshot of a new University of Miami study that suggests people tend to eat more high-calorie foods that will keep them satisfied longer when they believe tough economic times are ahead.
The research, published in the journal in Psychological Science, suggests economic downturns may subconsciously promote a "live for today" survival instinct that triggers consumption of nearly 40 percent more food than normal.
"The findings of this study come at a time when our country is slowly recovering from the onslaught of negative presidential campaign ads chalked with topics such as the weak economy, gun violence, war, deep political divides, just to name a few problem areas," noted Juliano Laran, an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Miami School of Business Administration, who conducted the research.
"Now that we know this sort of messaging causes people to seek out more calories out of a survival instinct, it would be wise for those looking to kick off a healthier new year to tune out news for a while."
To reach their conclusions, researchers conducted several experiments involving volunteers invited to participate in what they thought was a taste test for a new kind of M&M. Half the participants were given a bowl of the candy and were told that the secret ingredient was a new, high-calorie chocolate. The other participants also received a bowl of M&Ms but were told they were low-cal candies. In fact, there was no difference in the chocolate offered to both groups.
The researchers then measured how much participants consumed after they were exposed to posters with two types of messages — those that emphasized economic “tough times” and those with neutral comments. The results showed volunteers exposed to “tough times” messages ate nearly 70 percent more of the "higher-calorie" candy vs. the "lower-calorie" option, while those who viewed neutral messages did not significantly differ in the amount of candies consumed.
Researchers also found when the group primed with "tough times" messages was told the food they were sampling was low-calorie, they consumed roughly 25 percent less of it. According to the researchers this suggests if people perceive that food resources are scarce, they place a higher value on food with more calories.
"It is clear from the studies that taste was not what caused the reactions, it was a longing for calories," said Laran. "These findings could have positive implications for individuals in the healthcare field, government campaigns on nutrition, and companies promoting wellness. And, certainly beware of savvy food marketers bearing bad news."

© HealthDay

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Bad economic news may affect your waistline as well as your pocketbook, new research suggests.
Thursday, 24 January 2013 10:05 AM
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