Experiments show people who feel socially inferior yearn for fattier foods

December 21, 2016 by Bob Yirka report
food
Credit: Maliz Ong

(Medical Xpress)—A pair of researchers affiliated with Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and the Chinese University of Hong Kong has found that when people are made to feel socially inferior, they tend to crave fattier foods. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Bobby Cheon and Ying-Yi Hong describe four studies they carried out that led to the same conclusions—feelings of social inferiority can cause people to want to eat more food and food that has a lot of fat in it.

Prior research has shown that people on the lower end of the economic spectrum tend to be more obese than those higher up, the researchers note, but there has been little consensus regarding the actual cause of it. In this new effort, the pair conducted experiments that showed that the likely factor was feelings of inferiority.

The four studies consisted of asking to imagine their place on a social/economic ladder—some were asked to see themselves as residing at or near the bottom while others we encouraged to see themselves as existing near the middle or top of the ladder. The volunteers were then asked to fill out a questionnaire regarding their desire for at a buffet and to describe what types of food they most wanted to eat. One of the studies involved inviting volunteers to an actual buffet and allowing them to eat from a choice of foods.

The researchers report that those volunteers who were asked to imagine themselves at or near the bottom of the social ladder not only imagined themselves eating more at the virtual buffet, but actually ate more when offered the real thing. In addition, the same group was also found to both desire fattier foods and to consume them when given the chance compared to other volunteers in the study. These findings, the researchers claim, show that it is often feelings of inferiority that cause economically challenged people to eat unhealthy foods, which leads to weight gain. The researchers suggest such a reaction could derive from an adaptive history when it made more sense for people without a reliable food source to eat more when it was available and to focus on those foods that were the fattiest because it would be the best choice for adding fat that could later be burned during lean times.

Explore further: Researchers find hunger pangs drive people to acquire more non-food objects

More information: Bobby K. Cheon et al. Mere experience of low subjective socioeconomic status stimulates appetite and food intake, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2016). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1607330114

Abstract
Among social animals, subordinate status or low social rank is associated with increased caloric intake and weight gain. This may reflect an adaptive behavioral pattern that promotes acquisition of caloric resources to compensate for low social resources that may otherwise serve as a buffer against environmental demands. Similarly, diet-related health risks like obesity and diabetes are disproportionately more prevalent among people of low socioeconomic resources. Whereas this relationship may be associated with reduced financial and material resources to support healthier lifestyles, it remains unclear whether the subjective experience of low socioeconomic status may alone be sufficient to stimulate consumption of greater calories. Here we show that the mere feeling of lower socioeconomic status relative to others stimulates appetite and food intake. Across four studies, we found that participants who were experimentally induced to feel low (vs. high or neutral) socioeconomic status subsequently exhibited greater automatic preferences for high-calorie foods (e.g., pizza, hamburgers), as well as intake of greater calories from snack and meal contexts. Moreover, these results were observed even in the absence of differences in access to financial resources. Our results demonstrate that among humans, the experience of low social class may contribute to preferences and behaviors that risk excess energy intake. These findings suggest that psychological and physiological systems regulating appetite may also be sensitive to subjective feelings of deprivation for critical nonfood resources (e.g., social standing). Importantly, efforts to mitigate the socioeconomic gradient in obesity may also need to address the psychological experience of low social status.

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MR166
not rated yet Dec 21, 2016
This is just one more useless paper trying to link high fat diets to obesity. In truth high glycemic index foods like baked goods, potatoes, sugars and rice create blood sugar instability and hunger cravings. The war against animal fats is just part of the progressive movements agenda to end the eating of animals.
MarsBars
1 / 5 (1) Dec 22, 2016
You were going along okay, MR166, until it reached this bit:
The war against animal fats is just part of the progressive movements agenda to end the eating of animals.

Who or what is this "progressive movement", where can I get a copy of it's agenda, and what evidence do you have that proves this movement wants to turn everyone into a vegetarian?
MR166
not rated yet Dec 22, 2016
"Who or what is this "progressive movement", where can I get a copy of it's agenda, and what evidence do you have that proves this movement wants to turn everyone into a vegetarian?"

So all those papers that claim that cow farts are raising the temperature of the earth to dangerous levels are not from the progressives eh?
MarsBars
1 / 5 (1) Dec 22, 2016
So all those papers that claim that cow farts are raising the temperature of the earth to dangerous levels are not from the progressives eh?

MR166, this is a science news website, science is evidence-based, and I am simply asking you for evidence to back up the claims that you made in your statement regarding the "progressive movement".

Instead of doing that, you have gone off on a tangent about cow farts. Okay, I'll play along - can you cite reference details for a representative sample of "all those papers"?

BTW - I guess you slept through September when headlines such as these were everywhere in the media:
"Fifty Years Ago, Sugar Industry Quietly Paid Scientists To Point Blame At Fat"
"How Sugar Industry Shifted Blame To Fat"
"How Sugar Industry Made Everyone Hate Fat - Fraudulently"
"Sugar Industry Downplayed Heart Risks Of Sugar, Promoted Risks Of Fat"

Your target should be the sugar industry, not some "progressive movement".
MR166
not rated yet Dec 23, 2016
Sorry Mars but sugar is the least of our problems. The tirade against animal fats has been going on since the 70s. Government propaganda has been been pushing high carb low fat diets for forty years. Just look at the government recommended food pyramid and you can see that it is virtually upside down.
MarsBars
1 / 5 (1) Dec 24, 2016
Sorry Mars but sugar is the least of our problems. The tirade against animal fats has been going on since the 70s. Government propaganda has been been pushing high carb low fat diets for forty years.

Sorry MR166 but sugar and the industry behind it is at the heart of our problems. Ever heard of John Yudkin? Look him up in Wikipedia. The publication in 1972 of his book "Pure, White and Deadly: The Problem With Sugar" is what prompted successful lobbying of government by the sugar industry and manufacturers of processed foods to discredit Yudkin's case against sugar and point the blame at saturated fats instead.

I'm still waiting for you explain who or what the "progressive movement" is, to cite evidence supporting your claim that this movement's agenda is to make everyone a vegetarian, and to also provide references for a representative sample of the cow fart papers.
MR166
not rated yet Dec 24, 2016
http://sanfrancis...nia-law/

Yes, sugar is dangerous but white bread is even more dangerous since it has a glycemic index that is higher than table sugar.

Again, just look at the base of the government food pyramid and you will see that it is filled with so called "Foods" that are just as deadly as sugar.
MR166
not rated yet Dec 24, 2016
http://www.npr.or...ood-boom

Low fat diets were started by faulty research in the 70s and the government promoted them as a health benefit.
MR166
not rated yet Dec 24, 2016
Is the UN progressive enough for you.

https://www.thegu...ree-diet
MarsBars
1 / 5 (1) Dec 25, 2016
http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2016/09/19/cow-fart-regulation-passed-into-california-law/

Yes, sugar is dangerous but white bread is even more dangerous since it has a glycemic index that is higher than table sugar.

Again, just look at the base of the government food pyramid and you will see that it is filled with so called "Foods" that are just as deadly as sugar.

The link you have provided is to a news item "Cow Fart Regulation Passed Into California Law". California is just one state in one country. USA population is 4.35% of the global population; California's population is 0.52% of the global population. It's hardly a global tsunami of cow fart regulation.

The text that you posted underneath that link is not related to cow farts. I will respond to it with my next post.
MarsBars
1 / 5 (1) Dec 25, 2016
Yes, sugar is dangerous but white bread is even more dangerous since it has a glycemic index that is higher than table sugar.

http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2014/03/28/295332576/why-we-got-fatter-during-the-fat-free-food-boom

Low fat diets were started by faulty research in the 70s and the government promoted them as a health benefit.

I agree - sugar and white bread are both high GI and should be avoided in a healthy diet. Low fat diets were started by faulty research in the 70s (paid for by the sugar industry, as I said previously) and promoted by government (due to industry lobbying, as I said previously).

The NPR link also says "the kinds of carbs the authors of the guidelines had in mind were whole grains, fruits and vegetables. But this message was lost in translation. What did Americans hear? Fat is bad; carbs are good.
"And the food industry saw ... an opportunity … the formula was: Take out the fat; add lots of sugar."
MarsBars
1 / 5 (1) Dec 25, 2016
Is the UN progressive enough for you.

https://www.thegu...ree-diet

Your dreaded "progressive movement" is the UN?!

Did you read the UN report, or just The Guardian news item. Their "UN urges global move to meat and dairy-free diet" headline is not what the report says. The first sentence "A global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world from hunger, fuel poverty and the worst impacts of climate change, a UN report said" is also wrong; the words vegan or vegetarian don't appear anywhere in it. The advocate for a vegetarian diet is a member of the British House of Lords unconnected with the UN report. The sub-headline "Lesser consumption of animal products is necessary to save the world from the worst impacts of climate change, UN report says" comes closest to the report's findings - for a population of 9 billion in 2050.

I assumed your "papers" were research papers in peer-reviewed journals, not newspapers.

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