In today’s edition of “how could this actually still surprise anyone?”, new research suggests food ads may prompt overweight and obese people to overeat. Really? Food advertising causes people to think about food? Somebody call MENSA.
The study, published in Psychology & Health, examined whether exposure to food advertising led to more food-related thoughts and whether it motivated participants to eat. Of course it does. I mean, even I get hungry when I see these sorts of ads. You know the ones—decadent-looking ice cream sundaes…piping hot, gooey pizzas… They’re designed to make your mouth water. And to make the nearest drive-thru your next stop.
But despite the fact that the study seems obvious, I’m still intrigued by the details…and I think it’s important to share them with you, so that you’re aware of how our brains work—and the effect the media can have on your thought process. Especially when it comes to food.
The researchers conducted two experiments using a combination of normal-weight and overweight/obese subjects. First, they showed the participants general (non-food) television commercials. Then they had the subjects watch a mix of general and food-related commercials.
After each viewing period, subjects were asked to rate their desire to eat and complete “word stems” by looking at the first few letters of a word and then “filling in the blanks” to finish it.
The researchers found that after they watched food-related commercials, both groups came up with more food- and eating-related words. The food commercials also increased the desire to eat. But ONLY in the overweight/obese subjects.
They found that overweight and obese people show increased activation in the brain’s reward system in response to food cues. And that, my friend, is addiction—in no uncertain terms.
Our government, medical system, and insurance industry are all supposed to help addicts. And they do so admirably in many instances—except in the case of food.
This study proves that advertising does have an impact on people’s behavior when it comes to food. In particular, the people who are most vulnerable to the harmful effects of the junk they see plastered on billboards and TV screens everywhere they look.
As far as I’m concerned, we should ban junk food advertising the way we’ve banned tobacco ads. Junk food is just as addictive—and every bit as deadly.
Fish oil scores another win in its long line of victories
If you’re not already taking fish oil, here’s another reason to start ASAP.
According to a recent study, fish oil significantly improves triglyceride levels. As I’ve mentioned before, triglycerides are an important heart health marker (much more important than cholesterol, if you ask me). The higher your triglyceride levels, the higher your risk of heart disease.
But researchers found that after taking 1,500 mg of fish oil per day for just 8 weeks, subjects at moderate risk for cardiovascular disease had reduced triglycerides compared to the placebo group.
Just imagine how much they’d benefit if they took my recommended dose—3,000 mg per day.
And, remember, it’s not just your heart that benefits from fish oil … it’s great for your brain, too. Back in January, I told you about a study that found regular use of fish oil supplements resulted in a significant reduction of cognitive decline and brain shrinkage in older adults.
There’s also a load of other benefits, from blood clot prevention to prostate protection. So, once again, if you’re not already taking fish oil (containing 3,000 mg of EPA/DHA) every day,it’s high time you start.
“Exposure to television food advertising primes food-related cognitions and triggers motivation to eat, “Psychology & Health 2014; 29(10)
“Fish-oil supplementation alters numbers of circulating endothelial progenitor cells and microparticles independently of eNOS genotype, “Am J Clin Nutr 2014; 100: 1,232-1,243