False memories of unpleasant experiences with unhealthy foods could be used to treat obesity, says a study.
Elizabeth Loftus of the University of California, Irvine, and her colleagues convinced volunteers that they had been sick after eating strawberry ice cream as a child.
She and her colleagues gave 228 undergraduate students questionnaires about food. The volunteers subsequently received feedback on their questionnaires that suggested they had had an unpleasant experience related to food in the past, reports www.newscientist.com.
The researchers told them this conclusion had been generated by a sophisticated computer programme. A control group of 107 received no feedback.
It was found that 41 percent of the first group took on the false childhood memory and were more averse to eating strawberry ice cream afterwards
Loftus says the technique will need refining. "It might involve stories or visuals of people getting sick eating particular foods."
The researchers have shown that elaborate false memories - for instance, of being lost in a shopping mall as a child - can be implanted in people's minds.
It is doubtful that psychologists could ethically use it on obese patients without their consent, but Loftus suggests that parents could consent to it. "There is little to stop parents from providing these suggestions to their children."
Medindia on Obesity:
Obesity may be defined as a condition in which there is an excessive amount of body fat. This is one of the most commonest diseases found all over the world. This is most prevalent in middle age and can occur at any stage of life. Obesity tends to run in families. A clearer role of genetics helps in prevention of obesity on those who are most vulnerable. Eighty percent of the offspring of two obese parents become obese.
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