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Avoid Junk Food: How You Think About Food Could Affect Your Appetite

11/06/2014 11:15 EST | Updated 11/06/2014 11:59 EST
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Weighing the consequences of poor eating could reduce your appetite for even the most tempting foods, according to a new study to being unveiled this week at The Obesity Society Annual Meeting in Boston.

Working with 25 overweight and obese participants, Kathryn Demos, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at the Miriam Hospital at Brown University, and her colleagues observed changes to their brains using fMRI technology as they viewed images of enticing foods.

They asked participants to employ one of four cognitive strategies in random order.

The strategies included "Distract," in which they were asked to think about something else; "Allow," in which they were asked to accept their cravings and recognize that they shouldn't follow through with them; "Later," which required them to focus on the negative long-term consequences of acting upon their cravings; and "Now," which asked them to focus on how good the food would taste.

The participants were asked to rate their urge to eat on a four-point scale while undergoing functional MRI scans.

Participants ranked the "Later" strategy as being the most successful at reducing cravings and fMRI scans indicated increased activity in the areas of the brain associated with inhibition of overeating.

"Our results show the promising possibility that focusing on the long-term consequences of consuming unhealthy foods could help diminish cravings and, as a result, potentially enhance weight-loss efforts," says Dr. Demos.

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