Cues and Eating (11-27-17)

Environmental cues encourage us to eat in particular ways.  Joyner, Kim, and Gearhardt found that “In a cue-rich compared to neutral environment, (a) wanting [to eat was] greater whereas liking [of food] . . . remain[ed] the same, (b) feelings of hunger [were] greater, and (c) food consumption [was] greater.”  The cue-rich environment tested was designed to bring the experience of being in a fast food restaurant to mind: it “included . . . booths. . . . [and]  Menu boards with images . . . projected on large television screens.  . . . restaurant-style food storage and preparation appliances were visible.  . . .French fries were cooked in the kitchen immediately before participants arrived.  . . .  The neutral environment was an office space in the research laboratory, in this environment, text-only menu boards were printed on laminated paper and hung on the wall.  . . .  participants did not have a view of food preparation. . . . an air filter was used to ensure a neutral scent.”  It is important to note that the foods whose consumption increased in the cue-rich space were those typically found in fast food restaurants.

Michelle Joyner, Sally Kim, and Ashley Gearhardt 2017.   “Investigating an Incentive-Sensitization Model of Eating Behavior:  Impact of a Simulated Fast-Food Laboratory.”  Clinical Psychological Science, vol. 5, no. 6, pp. 1014-1026.