The researchers conducted the study on a group of 68 paid participants who were asked to shop online in a simulated grocery store after being kept off food for up to five hours. The participants were asked to purchase high calorie and low calorie foods, including dairy products, snacks and meat with the calorie content of each high calorie item displayed alongside a similar low calorie item though prices were not displayed.
Half of the participants were asked to eat crackers until they no longer felt hungry before the start of the session. The researchers also conducted a parallel study in which they tracked the people who shopped in supermarkets either after lunch or before supper. The researchers found that people who were hungry chose greater number of high calorie food items compared to those who were not hungry. The study has been published in the Journal of American Medicine Internal Medicine.
"Even short-term food deprivation can lead to a shift in choices such that people choose less low-calorie, and relatively more high-calorie, food options. Given the prevalence of short-term food deprivation, this has important health implications", the researchers wrote in their report.