The sight of sweet treats strengthens resolve
Women who want to lose weight can have their cake – as long as they don’t eat it, scientists believe.
A study found that showing weight-conscious women pictures of sweet treats strengthens their resolve to eat healthily. The finding suggests that glossy adverts designed to make cakes, chocolate and desserts irresistible may actually have the opposite effect.
Dutch psychologists asked 54 female students to look at a picture of either a slice of chocolate cake or a flower under the guise of a memory test. The Utrecht University researchers then questioned the students about any plans to eat more healthily before offering them a choice between a chocolate or oatmeal cookie.
Women shown the cake picture made healthy eating a higher priority than those shown the flower. They were also significantly more likely to pick the healthier option of the oatmeal cookie, New Scientist reports.
Researcher Floor Kroese said feelings of guilt may help strengthen resolve against temptation. She said: ‘Food temptations do not always trigger indulgence. It seems that seeing a food temptation reminded people of their goal to watch their weight and helped them act accordingly.’
She said that sticking pictures of tempting foods on the fridge door may help to bring weight-watching goals to mind.