Sugary Drinks, Food Ads Make You Want Fatty Foods

Fast Food Mashup
Jane Bruce

We all know that looking at food porn all day (it's our jobs... ) does cause some serious hankerings (and weight gain), but it seems like scientifically, food ads and sugary drinks actually cause chemical cravings.

Researchers at the University of Southern California have discovered that the brain's rewards centers (linked to overeating, craving, etc), reacted strongly to images of high-calorie foods. And if a person was eating or drinking something sugary? The rewards centers go crazy.

"This stimulation of the brain's reward areas may contribute to overeating and obesity and has important public health implications," Kathleen Page, principal investigator, told California Watch.

The team recruited 13 obese Hispanic females between 15 and 25 years old, targeting the demographic because past research indicated high obesity rates among Hispanics, and that women are more susceptible to food cues, Page said.

While images of fries, burgers, cookies, and ice cream caused a spike in rewards centers, researchers also discovered that a sugared drink (especially fructose, not glucose-sweetened) actually increased cravings for savory foods.

"These drinks had the same amount of sugar as a 16-ounce bottle of soda," Page said. Perhaps Bloomberg is onto something.

Jessica Chou is an associate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @jesschou.