Why Your Brain Craves Junk Food

Are you up for a salad or a burger and fries? It might be a simple choice, but your brain makes sure you choose the one it wants. Your brain doesn’t decided on taste alone, according to a new study by scientists at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital of McGill University. Your brain decides what food you’ll be eating based on its caloric content, rather than taste alone.

In the study, published in Psychological Science, healthy participants were asked to examine pictures of different foods while their brains were scanned. They were asked to rate which foods they wanted to eat and then asked to guess how many calories each had. The participants failed to accurately judge to calorie counts of the foods, but the foods they chose had higher calorie counts over the ones they ignored.

“Earlier studies found that children and adults tend to choose high-calorie food. The easy availability and low cost of high-calorie food has been blamed for the rise in obesity. Their consumption is largely governed by the anticipated effects of these foods, which are likely learned through experience. Our study sought to determine how people’s awareness of caloric content influenced the brain areas known to be implicated in evaluating food options. We found that brain activity tracked the true caloric content of foods.”

– Dr. Alain Dagher, neurologist at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital and lead author of the study

Research in the understanding how the brain works in regards to how people make food choices can be used in combating eating disorders such as obesity. Obesity is responsible for many health problems ranging from high blood pressure, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.

Source: Science Daily

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