You know that annoying habit where someone keeps whipping out their phone to photograph the food they're eating? It might not just be an incessant need to brag about their burrata-heirloom tomato salad (WE WANT THAT). It might be an actual disease.
Researcher Valerie Taylor spoke at the Canadian Obesity Summit on Wednesday, noting that nowadays, she's finding plenty of patients who are fetishizing food, where it overtakes human interaction.
"You don't take pictures of who you're with, you take pictures of what you're eating," Taylor said, CBC News reports. "For some people who have the predisposition for weight behaviors, it just goes that one step further, and they start to develop unhealthy weight disorders and they start to have weight problems."
Naturally, food has a more psychological role in people's lives, and Taylor, whose presentation was called "Food Fetish: Society's Complicated Relationship with Food," believes that the fetishization could be unhealthy.
"The concern becomes when all they do is send pictures of food," Taylor told The Huffington Post. "We take pictures of things that are important to us, and for some people, the food itself becomes central and the rest — the venue, the company, etc. — is background."
Past research has suggested that looking at food porn could spur weight gain, as images are often connected to the rewards center in the brain. But putting such a focus on the food, instead of the company and meaningful social interactions, could really affect weight gain.
"I think for some people it highlights how important food has become," Taylor said. "Just like the tattoos of 'I love McDonald's' replacing the 'I love Mom' tattoo, food is taking on a very important role. It has moved beyond simply fuel." And while we agree that food is more than fuel, this fetishization might be something to be aware of.