Bad news can lead to weight gain

7 February 2013

Bad news about the economy could cause people to pile on the pounds, research suggests.

Scientists at the University of Miami found that in tough times, people often look to eat high calorie foods that will keep them satisfied for longer.

They subconsciously primed a group of volunteers with such messages and found that a 'live for today' impulse kicks in, causing people to eat nearly 40 per cent more food compared to a control group primed with neutral words.

When the group given 'tough times' messages were told the food they were sampling was low calories, they consumed about 25 per cent less.

If people think that food resources are scarce, they place a higher value on food with more calories, the researchers said.

“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," said Juliano Laran, an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Miami.

The research was published in the journal Psychological Science.

Posted by Philip Briggs

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