Have you ever found yourself sitting on the couch watching TV and wondering, “Why am I so hungry?”
Well, doctors say “food porn” could be to blame. Last month Sydney GP and author Dr Helena Popovic told a conference that highly stylised, attractive images of food trigger a hunger hormone called ghrelin making us eat more.
Research has showed that ghrelin reaches higher levels in the bloodstream of people shown images of food compared with non-food images. In a double whammy effect, the hunger hormone increases food intake and also reduces the body’s use of fat stores.
Even more frustrating is that ordinary food can’t compete with what she described as the “air brushed, glamorised, glorified images that you get in food porn” so, if we do give in and fix ourselves a snack, we are likely to feel dissatisfied, even when our bellies are full.
It has been shown that people who were dieting were even more susceptible to the effects of both food images and ghrelin.
Dr Tony Marshal, writing in Medical Observer, says his patients report that they simply can’t get away from mouthwatering, hormone-triggering images of delicious food thanks to aggressive marketing, the abundance of cheap junk food and reality TV shows.
“You cannot escape prime time on TV these days without seeing different versions of MasterChef and Iron Chef and their various spin-offs on several channels simultaneously. On commercial channels even toilet breaks are filled with ads for food,” he says.
“In other words, apart from the abundance and availability of food 24 hours a day, it is the pervasiveness of food porn that seems to be a major driving factor in prompting some people to eat (and drink) continuously and sometimes unnecessarily.”
The doctor calls the food industry into account but points out that it is now more powerful that the tobacco industry ever was.
“I have personally known only a handful of centenarians, a couple of whom were my patients,” says Dr Marshal. “None was overweight, let alone obese.
“One of them told me the secret of his longevity. And by longevity I mean living a long time in good health. He summed up the secret by saying simply: ‘I eat to live and not live to eat.'”
Do you find that “food porn” thwarts your healthy eating goals? What do you think is the solution?