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Photos of food on Instagram can curb appetite according to study

By Dana Price
On October 23, 2013

A new study says that looking at food photos on Instagram could curb someone’s appetite.

The study in the Journal of Consumer Psycology said that 232 subjects looked at pictures of common food items. One group looked at sweets the entire time, while the other group looked at photos of salty foods.

They then rated each picture based on how appetizing the food looked. They had to rate on a seven-point scale from “Not at all appetizing” to “Extremely appetizing.”

Afterwards both groups were given salty peanuts as a snack. The group that looked at the salty foods enjoyed the peanuts much less than the ones that looked at the sweets.

One of the researchers said that viewing pictures of food makes peoples’ brains feel like it has already experienced eating it. According to the study, when the salty group was given the peanuts their brains responded with a familiarity reaction.

“In a way, you’re becoming tired of that taste without even eating the food,” Ryan Elde, Brigham Young University marketing professor said. “It’s sensory boredom. You’ve kind of moved on. You don’t want to taste [that] experience anymore.”

Jeff Larson, coauthor of the study and a marketing professor, said that if someone really wants to enjoy what they eat, they should avoid at a lot of pictures of it.

“If you want to enjoy your food consumption experience, avoid looking at too may pictures of food,” said Larson. “Even I felt a little sick to my stomach during the study after looking at the sweet pictures we had.”

The researchers said that a couple of photos from Facebook does not have the same effect. They stressed that viewing more pictures has a stronger effect.

According to Pew Research Center, social media has higher usage among younger demographics. College-age student users are the highest percentage of users on social media with 83 percent around the age of 18- to 29-years-old.

Instagram currently has 90 million people according to the company. There is also 15 million posts under #foodporn and 63 million posts under #food.

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