www.sacbee.com - Monday July 2nd, 2012
You've seen billboards showing a triple-stacked hamburger, dripping with cheese, laced with bacon and nestled in a light, fluffy bun. And you've seen the commercials highlighting the delectable fudge swirls churned into a pint of rich, creamy ice cream.
But do these commercials really work? Do they actually make you crave food? Yes, they do.
According to new research out of the University of Southern California, images of high-calorie foods stimulate the "craving" part of the brain. And if a person is eating or drinking something sugary while looking at them, the hankering gets even more severe.
The research was presented last week at the annual meeting of The Endocrine Society in Houston.
"Studies have shown that advertisements featuring food make us think of eating, but our research looked at how the brain responds to food cues and how that increases hunger and desire for certain foods," said Kathleen Page, principal investigator and assistant professor of clinical medicine at USC's Keck School of Medicine. "This stimulation of the brain's reward areas may contribute to overeating and obesity and has important public health implications."
To figure out what was happening in the brains of people exposed to pictures of delectable food items, Page and her team recruited 13 obese Hispanic females between the ages of 15 and 25 and monitored their brains using fMRI imaging, which analyzes blood flow in the brain.