"We wanted to see if pictures of food, particularly high-fat, high-calorie food, would be a distraction for people engaged in a complicated task," said Howard Egeth, professor at Johns Hopkins University.
"So we showed them carrots and apples, and it slowed them down. We showed them bicycles and thumb tacks, and it slowed them down. But when we showed them chocolate cake and hot dogs, these things slowed them down about twice as much," Egeth said.
The results strikingly demonstrate that even when food is entirely irrelevant, and even when people think they are working hard and concentrating, food has the power to sneak in and grab our attention - at least until we eat a little of it, researchers said.
Researchers noted that all of the pictures distracted people from the task, but found that items like doughnuts, potato chips, cheese and candy were about twice as distracting. The healthy food pictures - like carrots, apples and salads - were no more distracting to people than non-foods like bicycles, lava lamps and footballs, researchers said.
Inputs from PTI