Healthy images could be used to rouse people from junk food obsession

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

© iStock
© iStock

Related tags Junk food Nutrition

Billboards pointing out healthy food options could be enough to pull people out of their junk-food obsession, early Australian research suggests.

Commercials might have a similar affect, scientists concluded after using lab rats to conduct a series of experiments to see how the environments where high-fat, high-sugar treats were routinely consumed could induce habitual control.

The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Behavioural Neuroscience​, could lead to new ways to counter obesity and related lifestyle diseases.

It has so far shown that rats, though they lose the ability to make their own nutrition choices  by becoming accustomed to environments where treats were routinely consumed, could also easily be brought out of this state.

The Sydney University researchers suggested using simple interventions, such as reminders of how unhealthy certain foods are, or interrupting the automatic processing of junk-food cues.

In the tests, the rats were first repeatedly exposed to junk food or bland chow environments. After being food-deprived, they were trained to press levers that provided either sugar water or pellets.

The experiment was repeated once they were full, though this time distinct sound cues were played when rats were placed in junk food or bland chow contexts, creating specific environmental cues associated with the food types.

The researchers found that the cue played in the bland chow context improved sensitivity to the devaluation of food, when rats were subsequently placed in the junk food context after having been fed.

A sound cue paired with bland food is all it took to take rats out of a habitual mode of behaviour and back into a volitional mind frame, the researchers concluded.

Related news

Related products

The Future of Healthy Snacking in ASPAC

The Future of Healthy Snacking in ASPAC

Glanbia Nutritionals | 17-Nov-2022 | Insight Guide

Discover the next frontier of snacking in the Asia Pacific market. With insights from consumers in China, Japan, and South Korea, this easy to access guide...

The Future of Healthy Snacking in Japan

The Future of Healthy Snacking in Japan

Glanbia Nutritionals | 28-Jul-2022 | Insight Guide

Our consumer study on healthy snacking in Japan reveals key insights into snacking motivations, the consumer landscape, and today’s top snacking trends—including...

Food design by extrusion

Food design by extrusion

Thermo Fisher Scientific | 15-Mar-2022 | Application Note

Food extrusion is an established and highly versatile technique for producing food, feed, nutritional additives and flavors.

Follow us


Food & Beverage Trailblazers

F&B Trailblazers Podcast