70 percent of household meals in America are affected by digital media, says food psychologist Brian Wansink.
Pictures of food and beverages are flooding the news feeds of 63 percent of 13-to-32-year-old social media users. Up to May 2015, the hashtag #foodporn, which was used to mark photos of food, was tagged 54 million times on Instagram alone. Although you cannot reach into the screen and really enjoy the meal in the picture, the mere pleasure of viewing such tasty food can stir up your appetite and make you overindulge.
A new research published in October 2015 in the journal Brain and Cognition found that the brain experiences dramatic neurophysiological changes in response to food images that cause physiological hunger. According to the research, “external food cues, such as the sight of appetizing food, can evoke a desire to eat, even in the absence of hunger.”
Researchers conducted a meta-analysis of neuroimaging of more than 1,500 subjects to assess the neural response to visual cues as related to their current weight and satiety level. The study found that obese people were more responsive to food cues when in a satiated state than individuals at normal weights. When hungry, neurons of reward centers were activated in obese individuals while the cognitive areas of the brain were activated in those at healthy weight. This study’s branch suggests that the viewer’s weight influences the brain’s response to food cues.
A 2014 meta-analysis pointed out that participants with higher BMI who viewed pictures of foods while thinking about the pleasure achieved from consumption experienced greater activation in cognitive areas of the brain and the anticipation of reward compared with thinner ones. Conversely, when looking at the same images while concentrating on the health benefits of consumption, participants with a higher BMI experienced less activation in these same areas of the brain. These results suppose that individuals with a higher BMI often ignore those benefits, and that they often make choices mainly based on their food’s perceived tastiness.
A report published in November found that obesity is rising. Although sugar and soda consumption has declined over the last 15 years, the number of obese Americans continues to increase. A 2014 report shows an obesity rate reaching near 40 percent.
Scientists believe obesity is rising because most people are living in “obesogenic environment,” or surrounding that promotes obesity. The abundance of fast food, ready-made meals as well as emerging technologies result in the rise of on-the-go meals and the fact that more people are distracted while eating, which can eventually lead to weight gain.
These are 5 following steps to make sure your social media environment supports good health:
- Choose fresh and organic food
Choose fresh foods like fruits, vegetables, and lean, organic meats.
- Avoid processed foods
Avoid the boxed, frozen and canned foods that can put empty calories and toxins into your diet.
- Cook your meals
Restrict dining out on special occasions. Skip the drive-thru when you won’t have time to cook your meal.
- Avoid distracted media when eating
Avoid eating while exposing to technology and social media.
- Control your social media
If “food porn” stirs up your stomach, consider filtering you feed.