Picturing junk food may lead to less consumption

Jan 26, 2011

Thinking about junk food may not be so bad

Thinking about consuming a pint of ice cream isn't such a bad thing. Many dieters try to avoid thoughts of their favorite treats, but that may actually hurt weight loss efforts.

Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University found those who think about their favorite tasty treats are more likely to refrain from actually eating them.

Researchers divided study participants into three groups. One group imagined placing 33 quarters into a laundry machine, another group imagined eating the same amount of M&M's and the third group envisioned both tasks.

Participants were then allowed to eat as many M&M's as they wanted. Those who just thought about eating the candy consumed the least.

"These findings suggest that trying to suppress one's thoughts of desired foods in order to curb cravings for those foods is a fundamentally flawed strategy," says lead study author and assistant professor Carey Morewedge.

Such information may be helpful for those trying to reduce their weight and save on their life insurance premiums. People who aren't obese or afflicted with a serious medical condition will likely receive better rates. 

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