Sunday, March 22, 2009

Think Exercise and Get Fat

I recently read about a new University of Illinois study that was published in the journal Obesity. The researchers said that public health campaigns that promote exercise seem to cause people to eat more. They found that people who viewed posters suggesting that they join a gym or take a walk ate more food after looking at the posters than people who saw similarly designed posters prompting them to make friends or be in a group. Subliminal words about being active had a similar effect on study participants, said Illinois psychology professor Dolores AlbarracĂ­n, who led the study.

"Viewers of the exercise messages ate significantly more (than their peers, who viewed other types of messages)," she said. "They ate one-third more when exposed to the exercise ads." Those exposed to subliminal words about activity during a computer task ate about 20% more than those exposed to neutral words, she said.

This explains a lot.

Lately my daughters and I have been trying to balance our TV watching habits by viewing “Top Chef”, “Dancing with the Stars”, “Ace of Cakes” and “Biggest Loser”. I wondered if watching these shows in combination was putting me at cross purposes to my goals, one of which is to lose weight and get in better shape, or whether watching a healthy mix of cooking and exercise shows would simply put me in a well balanced state of mind. I found that I cook more creatively and am more aware of blending ingredients since I’ve been watching “Top Chef”. I bounce more in my overstuffed easy chair when watching “Dancing with the Stars”. I laugh a lot when watching “Ace of Cakes” and I'm in awe of their artistry but I honestly have no desire to eat cake (have you seen where they put their hands when they're rolling fondant?) And every time I start watching “Biggest Loser” I find myself immediately craving potato chips. I’ve gained and lost the same five pounds several times over the past few months. I had thought I might need to add another exercise show to speed up my weight loss but after reading the University of Illinois study I’m beginning to think reverse psychology may be more powerful than I realized. I’m considering adding a few more food shows to my television diet.


  1. Great post Tricia. Don't you just love Ace of Cakes? I find myself craving ice cream while I watch it. I think this calls for a new study at Univ of Illinois - What happens to the weight of those of us who love shows from the food network.

  2. Cynthia-- I think it's only fair that we let the dancers on "Dancing With the Stars" work it off for us. I mean, My God, the way they can shake their booties should certainly be able to handle the calories we're absorbing from the food network.


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