Junk food cravings are triggered by the mere thought of being low class

nash2010

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Jun 18, 2010
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It’s well established that people with low economic status are the hardest hit by the current obesity pandemic, as well as related health problems such as diabetes. Poor healthcare, stress, unhealthy lifestyles, and a cornucopia of cheap junk food are all thought to play a role. But a new study suggests there’s a subconscious component, too.

When researchers merely prompted study volunteers to consider themselves low-class, they were more likely to prefer, choose, and eat larger amounts of food, as well as higher-calorie foods. The findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, echo what’s been seen in a variety of animals—from birds and rodents to nonhuman primates. Thus, the authors speculate that the mental glitch may be an evolutionary holdover intended to boost survival by compensating for a lack of social and material resources.

More important for humans, the findings suggest that we may not be able to tackle obesity by just improving access to healthier foods and promoting exercise.

For the study, psychology researchers at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore recruited nearly 500 healthy participants for a series of four experiments. In the first, the team had 101 participants complete a task in which they were shown a ladder with ten rungs and told to select which rung they were on relative to either a wealthy, well-educated, powerful person or a poor, uneducated, unimportant person. Participants were randomly assigned to the two comparisons. In keeping with past studies, they ranked their social status lower in the former scenario and higher in the latter.

Next, the participants got to pick foods from a hypothetical buffet. Taking into account things like each participant’s normal eating pattern, hunger, and gender, the researchers found that those who ranked their social status lower chose more food and more high-calorie foods than those that ranked themselves as having a higher social status.

In the second experiment, researchers gave 167 participants the same socioeconomic ranking task, then asked them to match high calorie foods (pizza, hamburgers, fried chicken) and low calories foods (vegetables and fruits) with either pleasant or unpleasant descriptors, such as tasty or nasty. Again, those who landed lower on the ladder were more apt to prefer the high-calorie foods.

In the last two experiments, researchers followed up the socioeconomic task with actual eating experiments. In this part of the study, 83 self-ranked participants got to watch a documentary while munching on their choice of three snacks: potato chips, M&M candies, or raisins. Again the low-ranked participants went for the chips and chocolate more than their higher-ranked counterparts. And finally, researchers gave 148 self-ranked participants a big bowl of noodles and then told them to eat until they were “comfortably full.” The lower-ranked participants ate an average of about 20 percent more calories' worth of noodles.

“These findings suggest that mindsets of deprivation and low social standing may be critically linked to obesity risk via increased intake of calories,” the authors conclude. As such, the subjective experience of low social standing may be another barrier to improving health.

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Nanren

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May 11, 2009
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Do you have a universally accepted definition of a "junk food"?
French fries and chicken may be junk food in UK or America but may not be junk food to a hawker (machinga) carrying 15kg bag on his back walking on his feet from Buguruni to Mnazi mmoja.
 

Sky Eclat

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Sometimes when I reflect the life in Kwamtogole I see we are very lucky, sending a child to the shop with a cup to buy a scoop of cooking oil, by all means that scoop have to cook the meal, end of the day the oil consumption is just adequate for our body needs.
 

nash2010

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Jun 18, 2010
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Do you have a universally accepted definition of a "junk food"?
food that has low nutritional value

French fries and chicken may be junk food in UK or America but may not be junk food to a hawker (machinga) carrying 15kg bag on his back walking on his feet from Buguruni to Mnazi mmoja.
1. We get nutrients through eating/drinking not by activities we do there after.

2. Junk food contains a lot of calories mainly from fat and/or sugar and that's exactly what your body needs to carry a 150kg bag

3. Your body needs more than just calories, it need vitamins, minerals, fiber and so on which appear to be missing or available in trace amounts in junk food.
 

Nanren

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May 11, 2009
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food that has low nutritional value



1. We get nutrients through eating/drinking not by activities we do there after.

2. Junk food contains a lot of calories mainly from fat and/or sugar and that's exactly what your body needs to carry a 150kg bag

3. Your body needs more than just calories, it need vitamins, minerals, fiber and so on which appear to be missing or available in trace amounts in junk food.
How about stiff porridge (ugali)? Do you know that Sembe contains more calories than irish potatoes (chips)? based on amount of calories as you contend, would you agree that ugali is a junk food?
 

Nanren

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Nanreen,chips ni junk food regardless of enviroment
I disagree.
A better definition of junk food is " the food that you don't need". To me even well cooked beef will qualify to be junk food if it is more than what I need. Similarly, chips may not be junk food to me If I am taking when I am really hungry, and I take what is just enough-just what I need.
 

Nanren

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May 11, 2009
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Nanren junk food is all about lack of nutrients not calorie content
So which nutrients are missing in chips/chicken or chips/eggs as compared to ugali/maharage that we ate in our boarding schools? Wouldn't you say chips/eggs are more nutritious than ugali/maharage?
 

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