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Top Story

Junk food almost twice as distracting as healthy food

Even when people are hard at work, pictures of cookies, pizza and ice cream can distract them -- and these junk food images are almost twice as distracting as health food pictures, concludes a new study. The study also found that after a few bites of candy, people found junk food no more interesting than kale. The researchers created a complicated computer task in which food was irrelevant and asked a group of participants to find the answers as quickly as possible. As the participants worked diligently, pictures flashed in the periphery of the screen -- visible for only 125 milliseconds, which is too quick for people to fully realize what they just saw. The pictures were a mix of high-fat, high-calorie foods, healthy foods or items that weren’t food. All of the pictures distracted people from the task, but the researchers found things like doughnuts, potato chips, cheese and candy were about twice as distracting. The healthy food pictures -- things like carrots, apples and salads -- were no more distracting to people than non-foods like bicycles, lava lamps and footballs. This research underscores people’s implicit bias for fatty, sugary foods and confirms the old adage about why you shouldn’t grocery shop hungry.

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