Hearing certain words makes us reach for unhealthy food, revealed a new study conducted by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery and The Obesity Society.
Study leader Susan Carnell of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine said, "The study found that individuals with obesity had a stronger response to words associated with high-calorie foods - such as chocolate spread and chicken wings - in a widespread neural circuit spanning multiple areas of the brain. When we subjected individuals to a combined social and physiological stressor, both individuals with obesity and those of normal weight showed slightly altered responses to high-calorie food words, but only those with obesity ate more at a subsequent meal. This suggests obese people respond to food cues differently to lean people, which could lead them to eat more."
In the second study, the research team found a link between responses to food words and obesity risk in teens with genetic variants that increase the risk of obesity.