A team of scientists has discovered why bad foods become so much more noticeable and tempting when you are trying to eat healthier. The experts have found that thinking about food, even when the thoughts are centered around dieting, will increase the odds of overeating.
The analysis also revealed that this effect is stronger among individuals who are overweight. The study was led by Dr. Suzanne Higgs of the University of Birmingham,
“We suggest that thinking about food increases the likelihood of overeating,” said Dr. Higgs. She explained that individuals who are dieting are “more responsive to the presence of food in the environment,” which is simply because food is on their mind. Unfortunately, this can lead to weight gain instead of weight loss.
The investigation was focused on 90 volunteers, who were around 50 percent overweight and 50 percent healthy. The participants were asked to memorize an image of a particular food item, such as a pizza.
Next, the individuals attempted to identify the position of a circle on the computer screen, just as another shape emerged on the screen as a distraction. The circle was sometimes placed next to the picture of the featured food item, while other times it was placed next to a non-food item.
The researchers determined that all of the participants found it harder to spot the circle during the task using images of food. The findings suggest that people have a difficult time remembering or thinking about other things when they are distracted by pictures and thoughts of food.
According to a review of the study published by the British Psychological Society, the participants were weighed a year after the study. This revealed that the individuals who struggled the most with the trial had also experienced the most weight gain.
The study is published in the International Journal of Obesity.