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Can food thoughts make you thin?

“Imagine eating if you want to lose weight,” The Guardian has suggested. The newspaper said psychologists have found that simply imagining eating high-calorie food, such as chocolate, can reduce your appetite and help you lose weight.

The research behind this widely reported news was a set of small observational studies that compared people’s consumption of M&Ms and cheese after imagining scenarios where they had or had not eaten the foods. There was some consistency in the findings, which suggested that greater time spent imagining a food will reduce the amount eventually consumed. This pattern seemed to generally hold for both M&Ms and cheese.

While it may be attractive to think that we could reduce the amount of chocolate we eat simply by imagining eating it, it should be remembered that this was a small, experimental study. Whether the theory applies to most people outside the laboratory remains to be seen, as does the effect of this approach on health. As it stands, newspapers are oversimplifying the issue by suggest that mental imagery is a way to lose weight.

Extracted from: http://www.nhs.uk/news/2010/12December/Pages/thinking-about-food-reduce-eating.aspx

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