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NewsBites September 2018 Issue

Cravings Can Lead to Higher Spending on Junk Food

A recent study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America suggests that cravings for junk foods not only can undermine good dietary intentions, but also may increase spending on unhealthy choices.

Forty-four non-dieters fasted for four hours and then were offered a chance to bid on one of three high-calorie, high fat/sugar snacks as well as healthier snack options. After recording their initial bids, participants were exposed to the unhealthy snack (unwrapping it, smelling it, thinking about times they had enjoyed eating it, etc.), to cue a craving. After this exposure, the reported desire for the unhealthy snacks, and similar items, increased, but desire for healthier options remained unchanged. The amount of money participants were willing to pay to get the desirable snacks went up by 38 percent.

Over 90 percent of people report having experienced food cravings at one time or another. These strong desires can override efforts to avoid unhealthy foods. While the authors offer no advice for reducing cravings in everyday life, this research does support keeping tempting choices out of sight.

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