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Instagram can hurt your appetite, study shows

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Looking at too many photos of food online can actually make you less likely to enjoy food in real life, a newly-published study has found.
(Brigham Young University)

You might want to think twice about stopping to salivate over someone else's meal the next time you're scrolling through your Instagram feed.

A newly-released study out of Brigham Young University shows that all of that sensory overload may actually be impeding your ability to enjoy the real thing.

Researchers from the university's school of management asked 232 participants to rate 60 Instagram snaps of food by how tasty that food appeared. Half were shown sweet treats, the other half salty.

At the end of the process, the subjects were all given salty peanuts. Across the board, those who had been drooling over salty foods reported enjoying the peanuts less.

"In a way, you're becoming tired of that taste without even eating the food," said BYU professor and study-coauthor Ryan Elder. "It's sensory boredom - you've kind of moved on. You don't want that taste experience anymore."

They reason that if you're cruising Instagram all day long, looking at the delicious things other people are eating - and if you're on Instagram, you'll know that food snaps are plentiful - you'll become over-exposed to food imagery.

This increases your satiation, which Elder and coauthor Jeff Larson define as a "drop in enjoyment with repeated consumption."

"In other words, the fifth bite of cake or the fourth hour of playing a video game are both less enjoyable than the first," they write.

The authors concede that the average Instagram user won't be affected by this phenomenon. Unless your feed is filled with food, your social media habits shouldn't affect your appetite much.

"You do have to look at a decent number of pictures to get these effects," Elder said. "It's not like if you look at something two or three times you'll get that satiated effect."

Do you post photos of your food to Instagram, or enjoy looking at the culinary creations of others?

Tags: pov

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