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Study: Eating when not hungry bad for health

People often eat because food is available, at least partially because of constant exposure to marketing encouraging them to eat.
By Stephen Feller   |   Dec. 31, 2015 at 2:13 PM

CORNELL, N.Y., Dec. 31 (UPI) -- Marketing is making people eat when they're not hungry, and that's making people less healthy, according to a new study.

Researchers at Cornell University found when people eat when they're not hungry, blood glucose levels rise more than if they wait until they are hungry to eat. But the availability of food and influence of advertising encouraging consumption of easy foods, they suggest, increases the chance of people eating when they are not hungry.

"Think about the last time you ate," said Dr. David Gal, a professor of marketing at the University of Illinois. "Were you even hungry?"

In the study, published in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research, the researchers recruited 45 undergraduate students, asked them to rate how hungry they were, and then fed them a carbohydrate-heavy meal. Each of the participants' blood glucose levels was measured before the meal, and at regular intervals after they ate.

Overall, students in the study who were hungry had lower blood glucose levels after they ate than the people who were not hungry.

"These findings suggest that it might be healthier for individuals to eat when they are moderately hungry than when they are not hungry," Gal said in a press release.

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