Looking at pictures of food repeatedly may help curb overeating

Health |  IANS  | Published :

London, May 23 (IANS) While images of food are known to influence binge eating, it can also trick the brain into feeling full, if we see pictures of the same product repeatedly, according to a study.

Researchers from Aarhus University in Denmark carried out a number of experiments which revealed that we can get a sense of satiety if we see the same image more than 30 times, which may help us curb overeating.

"The participants who were shown the picture many times also chose a smaller portion than those who had only seen the picture three times, when we subsequently asked about the size of the portion they wanted," Tjark Andersen, from the Department of Food Science at Aarhus.

It may sound strange that the participants felt full without actually eating anything. But this is really quite natural, explained Andersen. How we think about food has a large influence on our appetite.

The new research examined the number of repetitions needed -- and whether variation in the images removes the sense of satiety.

To investigate whether variation in food completely removes the sense of satiety, Andersen and his colleagues designed a number of online experiments. They ended up getting more than 1,000 people through their digital experiments.

First they showed a picture of just orange candy. Some participants were shown the picture three times, others 30 times. The group that saw most pictures of the candy felt most satiated afterwards, Andersen said.

He noted that the findings could be used as a weight loss strategy.

Since 1975, the number of overweight people worldwide has tripled. According to the WHO, obesity is one of the biggest health challenges facing humans. And the reason why we become too fat is that we eat too much food and too much unhealthy food and we do not take enough exercise.

"Think if you developed an app based on a Google search. Let's say you wanted pizza. You open the app. Choose pizza -- and it shows a lot of photos of pizza while you imagine eating it. In this way, you could get a sense of satiety and maybe just stop wanting pizza," Andersen said

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