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Fooling Your Hunger Hormone

How influenced are you by food labels? A new study suggests that the information they provide can determine the way your body responds to the food. Here’s how it worked: clinical psychologist Alia Crum prepared vanilla milkshakes and divided them up into two large batches. She labeled the shakes in one batch as containing 140 calories with no fat and no added sugar. The other batch, named Indulgence, displayed labels stating each shake contained 620 calories. (Both batches actually provided 300 calories per shake.) Before and after the study, participants drank their shakes and a nurse measured their levels of the hormone ghrelin, secreted in the stomach. Ghrelin levels rise when your body needs more food and fall when you’ve had enough. The ghrelin measurements revealed that levels of this hormone fell about three times more in participants who drank what they believed to be the high calorie “Indulgence” milkshake than they did in those who drank what they thought was a 140-calorie shake. All told, the study demonstrated that what we believe about the food we're ingesting can influence the way our bodies behave.

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Alia Crum et al, “Mind over milkshakes: mindsets, not just nutrients, determine ghrelin response,” Health Psychology, July 2011, doi: 10.1037/a0023467.

What Foods Must You Avoid? (Poll)

A recent Q&A discussed the idea of labeling foods that are gluten free: New Rules on Gluten-Free Food Labeling? Check out the article and let us know what foods you must avoid that have labels on the food packaging.