People May Eat More When Headlines Bear Bad News
Study suggests stressing about tough times unleashes craving for calories
Tough economic times can lead people to eat much more than they normally would, a recent study finds.
So, to cut down on calories, tune out bad news, the study author suggests.
Study participants who were given numerous messages about tough times ate nearly 40 percent more food than those who were given neutral messages. The researchers also found that messages about tough times led people to desire more high-calorie foods.
In one experiment, participants were told that they were taking part in a taste test for a new kind of M&M’s candy. They were told one bowl had M&M’s with high-calorie chocolate while the other bowl had M&M’s with low-calorie chocolate. In fact, there was no difference in the candies.
Before doing the taste test, the participants were shown posters that contained either neutral sentences or sentences about struggle and adversity. Those who saw the struggle and adversity posters ate about 70 percent more of the “high-calorie” candy than the “low-calorie” option, while those who saw the neutral posters ate about the same amounts of both types of candy.
The study, released online in advance of publication in an upcoming print issue of the journal