Is Food Porn Ruining Your Appetite?

Instagram photo of carrot cake waffle with orange cream cheese. Researchers found that looking at too many photos of a particular food can ruin appetites, according to a new study. Photo courtesy of Cassie Martin.

By Cassie Martin
BU News Service

The hipster-chic food photos on your Instagram feed aren’t just annoying, they could also be ruining your appetite according to a Brigham Young University study published earlier this month in the Journal of Consumer Psychology.

Researchers recruited 232 people to look at and rate pictures of food. Half of the participants viewed 60 pictures of desserts while the other half looked at 60 pictures of salty foods. Both groups had to rate each picture based on how appetizing the food appeared. At the end of the experiment, each participant was given peanuts–a salty food–as a snack. The ones who had been looking at pictures of salty food all reported enjoying the peanuts less.

The results indicate that over-exposure to food imagery increases people’s satiation (feeling full, a loss of appetite). “In a way, you’re becoming tired of that taste without even eating the food,” said Ryan Elder, co-author of the study. “It’s sensory boredom – you’ve kind of moved on. You don’t want that taste experience anymore.”

That doesn’t mean that checking out a filtered photo or two of your friend’s latest treat will ruin your next meal. You’d have to look at a large amount of pictures of a certain food before you become turned off by it the researchers said.

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