FRIDAY, Jan. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Tough economic times can lead people to eat much more than they normally would, a recent study finds.
So, to cut down on calories, tune out bad news, the study author suggests.
Study participants who were given numerous messages about tough times ate nearly 40 percent more food than those who were given neutral messages. The researchers also found that messages about tough times led people to desire more high-calorie foods.
In one experiment, participants were told that they were taking part in a taste test for a new kind of M&M's candy. They were told one bowl had M&M's with high-calorie chocolate while the other bowl had M&M's with low-calorie chocolate. In fact, there was no difference in the candies.
Before doing the taste test, the participants were shown posters that contained either neutral sentences or sentences about struggle and adversity. Those who saw the struggle and adversity posters ate about 70 percent more of the "high-calorie" candy than the "low-calorie" option, while those who saw the neutral posters ate about the same amounts of both types of candy.
The study, released online in advance of publication in an upcoming print issue of the journal Psychological Science, received no funding from private industry.
"It is clear from the studies that taste was not what caused the reactions, it was a longing for calories," study author Juliano Laran, an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Miami School of Business Administration, said in a journal news release.
"These findings could have positive implications for individuals in the health care field, government campaigns on nutrition, and companies promoting wellness. And, certainly beware of savvy food marketers bearing bad news," he added.
"The findings of this study come at a time when our country is slowly recovering from the onslaught of negative presidential campaign ads chalked with topics such as the weak economy, gun violence, war, deep political divides, just to name a few problem areas," Laran noted.
"Now that we know this sort of messaging causes people to seek out more calories out of a survival instinct, it would be wise for those looking to kick off a healthier new year to tune out news for a while," he suggested.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers nutrition tips.
SOURCE: Psychological Science, news release, Jan. 22, 2013
healthy eating and good nutrition
Learn how to navigate a holiday party to avoid unnecessary calories while still having fun.
Stock up on these essentials to prime up your immune system this winter season.
Celebs like Gwyneth Paltrow, Minka Kelly and Alessandra Ambrosio have all been spotted toting this year's hottest accessory: A green smoothie. It's basically the food equivalent of the latest Marc Jacobs bag. We got Carlotta Mast, senior director of content and insights for New Hope Natural Media, producers of Natural Products Expo, to dish up buzzworthy health foods you'll want to stock your cabinets with.
Turn up your body's fat burn with these healthy foods.
New research on the health benefits of ginger for burning calories, cinnamon for muscle recovery and more.
If cutting out meat, dairy and eggs leaves you confused about how to eat a healthy, balanced diet, you’re in the right place. Here are 9 healthy tips to get started.
Hitting the buffet table without a plan isn't going to end well. Keep your holiday feast between 600 and 800 calories of goodness by following these guidelines. Think you'd nix corn bread before sweet potatoes? Or would you skip stuffing to have some potatoes? Tell us below!
From appetizers to dessert, here’s how to navigate the dinner table.