Shocker: Overeaters Have Pleasurable, Emotional Reactions to Food

This burger makes us feel happiness.
This burger makes us feel happiness. Photo: Melissa Hom

This week in things we already knew about eating: Per a study out of Columbia University, thoughts of fatty and sweet foods trigger the pleasure centers of obese people’s brains, but not those of thin folks. This was the case even when researchers said fatty, sweet words like “chocolate brownie,” with little to no response for less delicious control words like “celery” and “zucchini,” reports The Wall Street Journal. (Our inner methodologist would like to register the quibble that those vegetables are ingredients, while a brownie is a full preparation — how about “roasted zucchini with garlic and olive oil” instead? Because that’s comparably delicious.)

A similar study out of Yale showed a tendency in obese people’s brains toward a strong emotional reaction to food, whether or not they were actually hungry. In case you’re somehow not sure whether you have pleasurable, emotional responses to eating, the WSJ handily includes a quiz, including such cutting insights as, “When I eat delicious food I focus a lot on how good it tastes.”

Eating to Live or Living to Eat? [WSJ]