Science Suggests Food Porn Might Actually Be Making You Fatter

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If your Instagram feed is more about food than friends, you may want to nix food porn from your social media diet.

According to recent research, looking at pictures of decadent, high-calorie foods may lead to weight gain.

Researchers compiled and reviewed data from multiple past studies in an effort to determine if looking at images of food influences hunger in any way.

Somewhat unsurprisingly, they identified a positive correlation between the "consumption" of virtual food porn and the consumption of high-calorie foods. In other words, the more we look at decadent foods, the more likely we are to indulge (and, thus, gain weight).

The authors explained,

Regular exposure to virtual foods nowadays, and the array of neural, physiological, and behavioral responses linked to it, might be exacerbating our physiological hunger way too often.

This sensation of hunger, they added, isn't merely psychological.

Our bodies actually release hormones signaling us to eat when we look at pictures of food (particularly, unhealthy food). This hormone release can cause our hearts to race, our insulin levels to spike and our salivary glands to go into overdrive — all of which are physical responses telling our bodies, and brains, it's time to chow down.

One study cited in the review also indicated, overweight individuals are more likely to respond to food porn in this way, and repeated exposure to photos of a certain food may actually decrease the enjoyment a person derives from eating that food.

All of which is to say, food porn, while fun as hell to look at, is not doing you any favors.

The bottom line? It's fine to indulge in food porn in moderation (good thing, because we're big fans). Just be sure to watch what you eat when you do -- and, maybe, clear out some space in your feed for other interests. (I hear cat-watching is a great way to pass the time.)

Citations: Just Looking at Food on Instagram Could Make You Gain Weight (Cosmopolitan)