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Exposure to 'Food Porn' Linked to Detrimental Eating Behaviors

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Visual cues of delicious food in your day-to-day environment may alter your eating behaviors, according to a new report published in Brain and Cognition.

Researchers studied how viewing these types of images - whether online or in advertisements - can impact physiological and psychological responses, neural activity, and visual attention.

From an evolutionary perspective, the human brain evolved to consume food whenever it was available. However, it also evolved during a time when food was scarce, researchers explained. Modern stimuli, including pictures of food and exposure to food, could be exacerbating physiological hunger too often.

"Such visual hunger is presumably also part of the reason why various food media have become increasingly successful in this, the digital age," the researchers wrote.

Glamorizing food

The authors also reflected on how food-based television shows, cookbooks and beautifully photographed foods on sites like Pinterest can glamorize food, "without necessarily telling a balanced story when it comes to the societal, health, and environmental consequences of excess consumption."

The number of hours people watch television is also associated with their body mass index, the study reported, and their patterns of eating when choosing from a variety of foods.

Also problematic may be the public's obsession with taking pictures of their food, the team said.

"Some chefs have even embraced this trend by providing diners with camera stands at their restaurant tables, even serving food on plates that spin 360°, thus allowing their customers to get the perfect shot every time."

The digital information people "consume" when it comes to food may influence over 70 percent of the foods that are eaten in American households, the study reported.

Studies have shown that obese or overweight patients may also be more susceptible to food cues than people who are a healthy weight.

"Increasingly, it would appear that people are spending more time looking at virtual images of appetizing foods, and paying less attention to the actual foods being consumed."

Source: Science Direct