Does food advertising make us eat more?

Does food advertising make us eat more?

We are surrounded daily by images of appetising and often unhealthy food on TV, papers and magazines everywhere we go.

With obesity on the rise this article in Psychology & Health raises questions about constant exposure to food and its effects on our eating habits.

The research looks at whether or not this encourages greed and over-indulgence and what motivates us to eat and managing dysfunctional eating behaviour.

Two experiments were carried out; the first on females with average body mass index or BMI.  The group was split into two, with half watching a mixture of food and non-food related advertising and the other half only watching non-food ads.

The groups were then asked to complete a list of unfinished words, all or which had the potential to be food related and to note their level of hunger.  The second experiment followed the same method, but with participants having high BMI.

In both groups, those shown food ads produced more food related words, suggesting that the advertising does activate food related conditions.  Interestingly, the second experiments showed that overweight viewers reported a stronger desire to eat than those in their control group.

The overweight group seemed more prone to eat as a direct result of the TV ads.

This suggests that more research needs to be done to help problem eaters to avoid food related cues.

It could make it hard on the advertisers who tempt us with their seductive food promotions, the latest M & S campaign being a perfect example.

Do you find yourself eating more while watching television, or finding you don’t remember how much you’ve eaten as you’ve been distracted?

by Tina Foster