Let Them View Cake: Looking at Food Pics Equals Less Eating

By Melissa Lafsky | August 17, 2009 4:24 pm

chocolate cakeWill showing pictures of cake to dieting women send them running for the Entenmann’s outlet? Or strengthen their resolve to avoid sweets? The answer is option B, according to a study of 54 women out of Utrecht University in the Netherlands. New Scientist reports:

[Study leader Floor] Kroese and her colleagues asked 54 female students to look at a picture of either a slice of chocolate cake or a flower under the guise of a memory test. The researchers then questioned the students about any plans to eat more healthily and offered them a choice between a chocolate or oatmeal cookie.

Women shown the cake picture gave a higher priority to their healthy eating intentions than their counterparts shown the flower. They were also significantly more likely to pick the oatmeal cookie – which earlier tests showed was generally perceived as the healthier option.

Kroese  speculates that in this case, viewing pictures of the objects of their temptation—not the cake itself, mind you, but pics of it—” reminded people of their goal to watch their weight, and helped them act accordingly.” Of course, it’s doubtful that we should start papering billboards with German chocolate cake to curb the obesity epidemic:

Kroese suggests that sticking pictures of tempting foods on the fridge door may help to bring weight-watching goals to mind. But she cautions that the results can only be applied to women wanting to lose weight: it is unclear whether they would hold in the general population.

Related Content:
Discoblog: Had a Heart Attack? Start Eating Chocolate
Discoblog: Obesity, Up Close: The Making of Pork Rinds
Discoblog: Why Do Some People Never Get Fat? Scientists May Have the Answer

Image: iStockphoto

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Food, Nutrition, & More Food
MORE ABOUT: food, obesity
  • millionbells

    I think further studies need done. I mean, cake was the furthest thing from my mind, until I looked at the picture and now I have a serious sweets craving.

    Besides, I would think the fact that it was an oatmeal cookie might have skewed the results. Even if I was thinking healthy, I would have never accepted the oatmeal cookie. Blech.

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