Forget those strict dieting regimes, the key to cutting out those unhealthy snacks is all in your mind, say researchers.
A team of British researchers believe that training your brain is a sure-fire method to cutting out that cake.
The researchers believe that an individual’s self-control and brain activity are linked to their weight and how much they snack.
The team from the universities of Bangor, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter reviewed MRI scans from 25 healthy, young women that were shown pictures of everyday objects as well as a series of images of food. Some of the images were of food that was considered low in appeal and had low calorie content while the other images were of very appealing foodstuffs bursting with calories.
They found that each person’s brain activity showed a larger response to the amount they ate as opposed to their hunger pangs, suggesting that our urge to snack is more strongly linked to the motivation and reward area of the brain, rather than to a real desire for that food.
“Our study has important implications for our understanding of how people become obese - and how they might also lose weight - issues that are really important to health,” Dr John Parkinson, senior lecturer at Bangor University’s School of Psychology said.
Parkinson continued to add that the research shows that over-eating is not being consciously driven but rather far more subliminally.
According to the Daily Mail, “brain training” techniques used for individuals with a gambling or alcohol addiction – two problems that have been linked to the reward area of the brain – are currently being tested as potential ways to help increase an individual’s self-control levels by consciously rejecting and “unlearning” this behaviour.
Dr Natalia Lawrence, lead researcher from the University of Exeter, said: “Food images, such as those used in advertising, cause direct increases in activity in brain ‘reward areas’ in some individuals but not in others.”
If those sensitive individuals also struggle with self-control, which may be partly innate, they are more likely to become overweight.