Adverts are to blame! Mouthwatering images of food 'fuelling Britain's obesity epidemic'
Study on young men reveals their eyes are usually bigger than their stomachs
Just looking at a picture of delicious food makes you hungry, experts have discovered.
They also claim that the mouthwatering images may be part of the reason for Britain's growing obesity epidemic – and that people trying to lose weight should avoid looking at them.
Researchers in Germany have revealed it only takes a picture of tempting food to cause a change in the level of hormones that control our appetite.
Feeling peckish Just looking at pictures of mouthwatering food can make you hungry – and make it harder to lose weight
The effect of the hormones are so powerful that a photograph can make you want to eat a slice of cake just two hours after breakfast.
Links between seeing or smelling food and an increase in appetite have long been established, but this is the first study proving that even a picture of food can make someone hungry.
The researchers added that people battling the bulge should 'avoid looking at pictures of appetising food as they will make you hungry.'
They came to this conclusion after conducting an experiment where they monitored the reaction of healthy men to images of food.
The volunteers were shown pictures of appetising food and inedible objects while having their hormone levels measured.
Results, published by the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich, revealed that levels of ghrelin – which controls our appetite – increased when the men were shown the food pictures.
Study author Petra Schssler said: 'The findings of our study demonstrate, for the first time, that the release of ghrelin into the blood for the regulation of food consumption is also controlled by external factors.
'Our brain thereby processes these visual stimuli, and the physical processes that control our perception of appetite are triggered involuntarily.
Look away now! Reserchers in Germany found that it only takes a picture of tempting food to cause a change in the level of hormones that control our appetite
'This mechanism could prompt us to eat a piece of cake just two hours after breakfast.
'We recommend that, where possible, individuals with weight problems should preferably avoid looking at images of appetising food.'
Co-author Axel Steiger added: 'We have proven something scientifically for the first time that people have always known: the mere sight of delicious food stimulates the appetite.
'Thus, the pervasive presence of appetising food in the media could contribute to weight increase in Western populations.'