Food commercials impact obese teens' eating habits
Food Commercials Impact Obese Teens\' Eating Habits. Obese children picture themselves eating the unhealthy foods shown on television commercials which in turn can affect their real-life eating habits, new research says.
New York: Obese children picture themselves eating the unhealthy foods shown on television commercials which in turn can affect their real-life eating habits, new research says.
TV food commercials disproportionately stimulate the brains of overweight teenagers, including the regions that control pleasure, taste and the mouth, suggesting they mentally simulate unhealthy eating habits, the researchers said.
"This finding suggests the intriguing possibility that overweight adolescents mentally simulate eating while watching food commercials," said lead author Kristina Rapuano, graduate student at Dartmouth University in the US.
"These brain responses may demonstrate one factor whereby unhealthy eating behaviours become reinforced and turned into habits that potentially hamper a person's ability lose weight later in life," Rapuano said.
Dieting efforts should not only target the initial desire to eat tempting food, but the subsequent thinking about actually tasting and eating it.
Thus, one should picture himself munching a salad rather than a cheeseburger, the study said.
Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the researchers examined brain responses to two dozen fast food commercials and non-food commercials in overweight and healthy-weight adolescents aged 12-16.
The brain regions involved in attention and focus and in processing rewards were more strongly active while viewing food commercials than non-food commercials.
The study appeared in the journal Cerebral Cortex.