Food and mood
News-Medical.Net: People feeling sad tend to eat more of less-healthy comfort foods than when they feel happy, finds a new study co-authored by a Cornell food marketing expert. However, when nutritional information is available, those same sad people curb their hedonistic consumption. But happier people don't.
In the January issue of the Journal of Marketing, Brian Wansink, the John S. Dyson Professor of Marketing, Applied Economics and Management at Cornell, and two colleagues describe several studies they devised to test the link between mood and food. For example, they recruited 38 administrative assistants to watch either an upbeat, funny movie ("Sweet Home Alabama") or a sad, depressing one ("Love Story"). Throughout the viewings the participants were offered hot buttered, salty popcorn and seedless grapes.
"After the movies were over and the tears were wiped away, those who had watched 'Love Story' had eaten 36 percent more popcorn than those who had watched the upbeat 'Sweet Home Alabama,'" said Wansink, author of the recent book "Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think" (Bantam Books). "Those watching 'Sweet Home Alabama' ate popcorn and popped grapes, but they spent much more time popping grapes as they laughed through the movie than they did eating popcorn."
Wansink suspects that happy people want to maintain or extend their moods in the short term, but consider the long term and so turn to comfort food with more nutritional value. People feeling sad or depressed, however, just want to "jolt themselves out of the dumps" with a quick indulgent snack that tastes good and gives them an immediate "bump of euphoria."Read more of this story…