Background: Brain imaging studies show evidence of selective brain reward
responses to high calorie foods. Behavioral studies extend this research by showing
that such foods can enhance emotions, even for sweet-tasting low calorie foods
(i.e., fruits). In the present study,
we tested the hypothesis that participants will show more positive emotional
change when drawing pictures of foods that are high fat or taste sweet compared
to bitter-tasting foods—as a possible behavioral intervention for enhancing
mood. Method:Participants were
randomly assigned to one of four art groups: high fat-high sugar (HFHS;
stimulus food: cupcakes), high fat-low sugar (HFLS; stimulus food: pizza), low
fat-high sugar (LFHS; stimulus food: strawberries), or low fat-low sugar (LFLS;
stimulus food: peppers). Participants used three colors (red, green, black) in
their art, were required to use all three colors, and told that the colors they
use must reflect actual colors that are natural for the food depicted.
Participants drew images of a stimulus food and prepost measures of mood and
arousal were recorded. Results:Consistent with the hypothesis, the results show that drawing pictures of high
fat foods (cupcakes, pizzas) and a food that tastes sweet (strawberries)
results in greater increases in mood compared to drawing a
bitter-tasting food (peppers). Changes in mood were independent of BMI, daily
sugar intake, daily fat intake, arousal, and hunger. Conclusion: These results extend a growing body of biobehavioral
research on the positive impact of food images on mood by showing that this
impact can be applied to enhance mood when expressing food images through art.
Cite this paper
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