Conventional wisdom and the experience of almost anyone tell us that even without real hunger, contemplating the image of a tasty and we really like, gives us an appetite and feel like eating a little of it, something we can finish doing if we have at our disposal the easy way.

measurement of the effect of tasty food on appetite

Now research shows scientifically that this phenomenon is real in the sense that is triggered not only the mind but also in the body. The team of Petra Schussler and Axel Steiger of Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Germany investigated the molecular processes related to the control of food intake. The scientists examined the specific physiological reaction of the study subjects (healthy young men) face images showing delicious food or a nonfood object. They then measured the concentrations of different hormones in the blood, such as ghrelin, leptin and insulin, which play a fundamental role in regulating food intake. In fact, researchers found that concentrations of ghrelin in the blood were increased specifically in response to visual stimuli with food pictures.

As a master regulator, ghrelin controls both eating and physical processes involved in food metabolism. The new results of study show that in addition to the physiological mechanisms to maintain the body’s energy status, environmental factors also have important influences on food consumption. Thus, the frequent presence of palatable food in the advertising displayed on TV and other media can contribute to gain weight of the populations of many nations exposed to that kind of advertising.

The conclusion is obvious: people trying to lose weight should avoid pictures of food look appetizing.