Researchers suggest that watching the news when there is a recession could make you fat.
They found volunteers increased their food intake by 40 percent when they were bombarded by gloomy news bulletins, the Daily Mail reported.
They also craved more calorie-dense unhealthy food.
The findings show a direct link between eating patterns and depressing news items.
Scientists urged would-be slimmers desperate to shed a few pounds to switch off the TV or radio news if they want to get their weight down.
Obesity has emerged as a major burden on the NHS and the number of people admitted to hospital for obesity-related illnesses has risen more than ten-fold in the past decade.
Health experts predict Britain's fat epidemic will cost the NHS and the economy 60 billion pounds annually by 2050.
Now it seems hearing a constant barrage of bad news could be making the problem worse.
Researchers from the University of Miami gave volunteers who thought they were taking part in a taste test two bowls of sweets and told them one type was very high in calories and the other very low.
In fact, they were identical in calorie content.
Before the test, each volunteer was shown either posters that contained neutral sentences, or posters with sentences describing struggle and adversity in tough economic times.
The results showed that those shown the gloomy messages not only ate 40 percent more in total than the other group but scoffed 70 percent more of the high-calorie sweets.
Those who viewed the neutral posters ate roughly the same amount of each.
Research leader Juliano Laran, from the university's School of Business Administration, said: "It is clear from the studies that taste was not what caused the reactions, it was a longing for calories."
"Now that we know this sort of messaging causes people to seek out more calories out of a survival instinct, it would be wise for those looking to kick off a healthier new year to tune out the news for a while," he added.
The findings are published in the journal Psychological Science.