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Bad news makes you fat
Maybe it's the bad news on TV that has you reaching for corn dogs and french fries.
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Outliers: In the fight against flab, good news is good news

By Modern Healthcare
Posted: February 2, 2013 - 12:01 am ET

Maybe it's the bad news that's making us fat.

At least that's what Outliers is surmising after reading about a new study, which determined that messages of hardship and struggle triggered people to seek higher-calorie foods. The study, published in the journal Psychological Science, looked at how a harsh environment affects what people put on their plates.

“The findings of this study come at a time when our country is slowly recovering from the onslaught of negative presidential campaign ads chalked with topics such as the weak economy, gun violence, war, deep political divides, just to name a few problem areas,” said Juliano Laran, an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Miami School of Business Administration, in a news release. “Now that we know this sort of messaging causes people to seek out more calories out of a survival instinct, it would be wise for those looking to kick off a healthier new year to tune out news for a while.”

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Several studies were conducted. One in particular focused on a taste test for a new kind of M&M. Half the participants got a bowl of candy and were told that the “secret ingredient was a new, high-calorie chocolate.” The other participants also received a bowl of M&M's, but were told the new chocolate was low-calorie. But there was no difference between the two bowls of M&M's.

The researchers measured how much the participants ate after they were exposed to posters containing either neutral sentences or sentences related to struggle and hardship. Those who were subconsciously prepared to think about struggle and hardship ate closer to 70% more of the “higher-calorie” candy vs. the “lower-calorie” option, while those primed with neutral words did not significantly differ in the amount of M&M's consumed.

Suddenly, Outliers has a craving for M&M's.

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