High-calorie food is everywhere these days—at your local grocery store or supermarket, in almost every restaurant, and so on—but what makes some people more likely to indulge in it than others?

Research to be presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior (SSIB) suggests that reward sensitivity may affect how people are affected by junk food commercials and other “cues linked with appetitive food,” according to the SSIB website. This means that you may feel a greater urge to eat after seeing commercials featuring delicious-looking junk food.

The study involved 75 participants who were made to watch 30-minute films complete with commercials (for junk food, healthy food, or no food products) to simulate watching a TV show. They were then asked to rate how appealing they found the food images and how much they wanted to eat once they had watched the films.

“We tested whether reward-sensitive individuals would experience greater pleasure and urge to eat after watching TV commercials featuring junk food, compared with those featuring healthy food or no food,” lead author Natalie Loxton, PhD, with the School of Psychology at the University of Queensland in Australia is quoted as saying. Of the results, she reports, “Reward sensitivity was associated with an increase in urge to eat in the junk food condition. There was no association in the healthy food condition and a reduced desire to eat in the no-food condition.”

Dr. Loxton noted that how appealing the junk food images were only affected the reward sensitivity of women.

So the next time you’re in front of the TV, you may want to change the channel or turn the set off when the show you’re watching takes a commercial break—or at least do so when you see the start of a junk food commercial. It may just keep the devil on your shoulder from whispering “Doesn’t that look good?” in your ear.

(Photo by Dave via Flickr Creative Commons)

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