The Science Behind How Food Advertisements Make Us Want To Overeat

chicken burger

Have you ever felt your stomach start to rumble when you watch someone take a bite out of a perfectly juicy burger with all the fillings in all the right amounts, or a picture perfect grilled chicken that is still piping hot from the grill and oozing succulent juice when cut open, even though you just had a heavy buffet lunch? Scientists think you are not the only one. In fact, they say that visual cues such as those in food ads are key factors in influencing what food you eat and how much of it you eat. It could have even helped in relapsing the diet many people try so hard to follow.

One of the key reasons why there was a prohibition in smoking advertisements during the Nixon period was because it caused craving and caused a boatload of quitters to backslide whenever they say an advertisement. It also promoted smoking to new smokers, causing an unending cycle of more and more people who were becoming fast addicted to the habit. However, the habit of overeating is a lot more complex than smoking, as eating is something we need to sustain ourselves with and there have been several well-documented cases of “emotional eating”. It cannot be disputed that advertisements for unhealthy food have been on the rise and this could be the reason for the sudden epidemic that is obesity.


One of the latest studies point out that food companies use ads as a way to force people into unhealthy eating habits. The food cues we deal with on a daily basis is astounding and most of the time, people are not even aware they are being exposed to a multi-billion dollar marketing ploy. One only needs to turn on the children’s channel on TV to know how effectively each demographic is being targeted. The constant watching of adverts with happy children indulging in chocolate, chemically enhanced and fried fast food will make the younger generation want to partake in their delights without knowing the risks they pose.

The effort to cut back on marketing unhealthy food as if it were healthy has been a long and tedious battle. Less than one percent of food companies spend money advertising vegetables and fruits. In 2012, the congress passed a bill with stringent guidelines on how food should be advertised for the masses, especially for children under the age of 12. But as advertising is considered commercial freedom of speech, they need more than just a few scientific papers to really be taken down.

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