A new study found that your junk food cravings are triggered by just thinking about being low class showing that a link between socioeconomic and poor nutrition may partly be in the mind.
When researchers merely suggested to study volunteers to consider themselves low-class, they were more likely to prefer, choose, and eat larger amounts of food, as well as higher-calorie foods. The findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, speculate that the mental glitch may be an evolutionary holdover intended to boost survival by compensating for a lack of social and material resources since the same results have been seen in a variety of animals,from birds and rodents to nonhuman primates. For humans, the findings suggest that we may not be able to tackle obesity by just improving access to healthier foods and promoting exercise.
The authors conclude, “These findings suggest that mindsets of deprivation and low social standing may be critically linked to obesity risk via increased intake of calories,”
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Among social animals, subordinate status or low social rank is associated with increased caloric intake and weight gain. This may reflect an adaptive behavioral pattern that promotes acquisition of caloric resources to compensate for low social resources that may otherwise serve as a buffer against environmental demands. Similarly, diet-related health risks like obesity and diabetes are disproportionately more prevalent among people of low socioeconomic resources. Whereas this relationship may be associated with reduced financial and material resources to support healthier lifestyles, it remains unclear whether the subjective experience of low socioeconomic status may alone be sufficient to stimulate consumption of greater calories. Here we show that the mere feeling of lower socioeconomic status relative to others stimulates appetite and food intake. Across four studies, we found that participants who were experimentally induced to feel low (vs. high or neutral) socioeconomic status subsequently exhibited greater automatic preferences for high-calorie foods (e.g., pizza, hamburgers), as well as intake of greater calories from snack and meal contexts. Moreover, these results were observed even in the absence of differences in access to financial resources. Our results demonstrate that among humans, the experience of low social class may contribute to preferences and behaviors that risk excess energy intake. These findings suggest that psychological and physiological systems regulating appetite may also be sensitive to subjective feelings of deprivation for critical nonfood resources (e.g., social standing). Importantly, efforts to mitigate the socioeconomic gradient in obesity may also need to address the psychological experience of low social status. Source Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Lisa Geng got her start as a designer, patented inventor,and creator in the fashion, toy, and film industries, but after the early diagnosis of her young children she entered the world of nonprofit, pilot studies, and advocacy. As the mother of two “late talkers,” she is the founder and president of the nonprofit CHERAB Foundation,co-author of the acclaimed book, The Late Talker, (St Martin’s Press 2003), and is instrumental in the development of IQed, a whole food nutrition meal replacement. Lisa currently serves as a parent advocate on an AAN board for vaccines, and is a member of CUE through Cochrane US. Lisa is currently working on a second book, The Late Talker Grows Up and serves as a Late Talkers, Silent Voices executive producer. She lives on the Treasure Coast of Florida.