Do People Eat the Pain Away? The Effects of Acute Physical Pain on Subsequent Consumption of Sweet-Tasting Food
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Sweet tasting foods have been found to have an analgesic effect. Therefore people might consume more sweet-tasting food when they feel pain. In Study 1, participants were randomly assigned to a pain or non-pain condition and their consumption of cheesecake was measured. Participants ate more cheesecake (a sweet-tasting food) following a painful experience than a non-painful one. In Study 2, participants were randomly assigned to a painful experience or a resource depleting experience (i.e., squeezing a handgrip) and then were asked to taste test two foods, one sweet and one not sweet. Participants ate more sweet-tasting food following a painful experience than a non-painful or a resource-depleting experience. These differences were not present for consumption of non-sweet food. Further, habitual self-control predicted consumption of sweet-tasting food when in pain, with those lower in self-control particularly likely to eat more. Results suggest that people do eat more sweet-tasting food when they feel pain, particularly if they are not in the habit of controlling their impulses. These findings have implications for health given rising rates of obesity and pain-related diagnoses.
author list (cited authors)
Darbor, K. E., Lench, H. C., & Carter-Sowell, A. R.