Pictures of Delicious Food May Contribute to Weight Gain

Don't look at fattening food

Don’t look at pictures of delicious food in magazines, and shut your eyes during fast food commercials on TV. That’s essentially the tip from researchers at Max Planck Institute, who have proven scientifically that looking at tempting foods increases your appetite and could contribute to weight gain.

Looking at fattening food can put on weight

You’ve probably been in a store when a salesperson comes up to you and asks if he or she can help you, and you may have replied, “I’m just looking.” But that phrase takes on new meaning if you are looking at a piece of chocolate cake or a bag of French fries, because just looking can increase levels of a hormone associated with appetite and metabolism.

At Max Planck Institute, researchers enrolled healthy young men in a study that evaluated the impact of their viewing pictures of images of delicious food or non-edible objects. The researchers also measured levels of hormones that have a role in regulating food consumption; namely, ghrelin (grehlin), leptin, and insulin.

The investigators found that when the men viewed pictures of tempting foods, the concentration of ghrelin in the bloodstream increased. It’s interesting to note that the main source of ghrelin production is the stomach.


Ghrelin is a protein hormone that controls the biological processes involved in metabolism of food as well as eating behavior. Previous research has shown that high levels of ghrelin seem to make high-calorie foods more tempting.

That was a finding reported at the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society (ENDO 2010) in San Diego by Tony Goldstone, MD, PhD, senior clinician scientist at MRC Clinical Sciences Centre at the Imperial College of London and Hammersmith Hospital. His study found that ghrelin may affect eating habits partly by stimulating the reward area of the brain, as noted in a WebMD report.

In the Max Planck study, the scientists observed that ghrelin concentrations increased when the men viewed food images. They concluded that their findings showed “for the first time, that the release of ghrelin into the blood for the regulation of food consumption is also controlled by external factors.”

Therefore, one way to help yourself not gain weight may be to avoid looking at pictures of delicious food and changing the channel when food commercials appear on TV. If you don’t, you could be tempted “to eat a piece of cake just two hours after breakfast,” noted Petra Schussler, a scientist at the Max Planck Institute.

Max Planck Institute

Image: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


Please, click to subscribe to our Youtube Channel to be notified about upcoming health and food tips.


The drool on my face from looking at the cake here tells me it really is so...sigh.