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Do Food Images Encourage Binge Eating and Obesity ?

According to a recent study Dr John Beaver found that among certain people the brain is particularly sensitive to appetizing food thereby encouraging them to overeat. // This is the main reason why some people cannot keep their hands of the food. The study published the results in the Journal of Neuroscience.

The researchers from the Medical Research Council's Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit showed people pictures of highly appetizing foods such as chocolate cakes, bland foods such as broccoli and disgusting foods such as rotten meat. Then they measured the brain activity using a sophisticated fMRI scanner followed which the participants were requested to fill in the questionnaire. The results showed that the participant's scores on the reward sensitivity questionnaire predicted the extent to which the appetizing food images activated their brain's reward network.

Dr John Beaver said that the study has demonstrated that, even in healthy individuals, some people's brain reward centres are more sensitive to appetizing food. This is the reason why some individuals are more vulnerable to develop binge eating habits and obesity. Hence when people are constantly exposed to images of appetizing food items through television advertising, vending machines, or product packaging they tend to eat more and become obese.

Through this study one can understand the vulnerability to multiple forms of addiction and compulsive behaviors. This gives an idea about drug cues in case of drug addicts. Dr Ian Campbell, an expert in obesity from Nottingham and medical director of the charity Weight Concern, said that loss of appetite control in dieters was not just about losing their will power or greed but is much more complicated.


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