How Junk Food Ads Aggravate Obesity (‘Forbes’)

A Dartmouth study has found that advertising can affect not only the food people buy, but also how they experience the food itself, Forbes reports.

To gauge the effect of food ads, Dartmouth scientists mapped the brains of teenagers as they watched television commercials for Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, and other fast food restaurants, reports Forbes. The study included researchers from Dartmouth’s Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, the Geisel School of Medicine, and the Norris Cotton Cancer Center at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

“During the food ads only, the kids’ reacted roughly as if real meals had been placed in front of them: Brain structures associated with attention and evaluation, and with craving, pleasure, and gratification all responded strongly. The overweight volunteers showed even stronger reactions in two areas that process taste and flavor. Regions tied to control of the mouth, tongue, and lips also lit up. Their brains were, seemingly, priming the overweight kids for some junk food,” Forbes writes.

Read the full story, published 5/27/15 by Forbes.