Neuroscientists Say We’re Willing to Pay More for Our Food Cravings

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You might have noticed that when you crave for something delicious, no matter how unhealthy or expensive it is, you’d pay for it. Thankfully, neuroscientists are on our side, blaming it on our brains. It seems that, according to their study, we’re also inclined to play a lot more for big portion of the food we crave.

Titled ‘The computational form of craving is a selective multiplication of economic value’, the research study has been recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study also aims to show that this is also an obstacle in leading a healthy life. Lead author Anna Konova, a postdoctoral researcher in New York University’s Center for Neural Science, explains their results:

“Our results indicate that even if people strive to eat healthier, craving could overshadow the importance of health by boosting the value of tempting, unhealthy foods relative to healthier options.”

And, with cravings being part of our lives, Anna Konova says that we will get those things because they “made us feel good in the past — even if those things may not be consistent with our current health goals.”

Cravings are a state of mind that is connected to addiction to certain foods, to eating disorders and obesity. But the problem so far is that researchers don’t know much about the nature of cravings and how they impact our behavior and daily choices.

Craving Specific Foods Has Nothing To Do With Hunger

Scientists had subjects that were asked how much they would pay for some snack food after they’ve realized they crave. After being exposed to the food, the study showed that people would pay more for that item after he’s been exposed to it. The subjects were hungry before and after they’ve been exposed to the item they crave.

Kenway Louie, a study coauthor and research assistant professor explains that “craving Snickers does not make you hungrier; it makes you desire Snickers specifically.”

Even if the items were high in calorie, the subjects were willing to pay for them rather than choosing a healthy option, like a granola bar.

In conclusion, the study shows that people will pay more for the food they crave, and the bigger the size, the better! Konova said that “craving boosts or multiplies the economic value of the craved food.”

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Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.


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