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A new study suggests that women are more interested in romance on a full stomach and they don’t respond as well to romantic cues when hungry.
Researchers at the University of California studied what happens with a woman’s brain when she is full and when she is hungry. 20 young women of normal weight, ages 18 to 25, have participated in this study.
They were tested once on an empty stomach, after fasting for 8 hours and once after eating a nutritional shake full of proteins and high in calories. They were shown images of ordinary objects such as a car or a stapler, as well as images of romantic gestures such as hugging and holding hands.
The brain activity increased when the women were fed and they responded better to the romantic pictures. The part of the brain associated to rewards was stimulated by seeing the images.
Previous studies have shown that not only women, but people in general, respond better to rewarding stimuli when hungry. It seems this study proved the other researchers wrong.
The study supports the belief that there is a close link between food and sex in the human brain.
Alice Ely, researcher at the University of California, believes that a possible explanation for the difference in brain activity when fasted and full might be that eating makes women more sensitive to other rewards beyond food, like sex. This means that there is a higher chance for a woman to be interested in romance if she is properly fed, while she might only think about food if she is hungry.
Even though the researcher couldn’t draw huge conclusions because the group was relatively small, she believes the experiment had interesting and unexpected results.
The group was made up of young women who have dieted before and women who never did. The ones who tried dieting responded more dramatically to pictures of food, such as the image of a chocolate cake, which means they were more stimulated by positive food cues.
This has also been observed in other previous studies and it shows that dieters might actually be at a greater risk for weight gain than non-dieters. This could be the reason why 45 million Americans go on a diet each year and yet two thirds of the population is obese or overweight.
Photo credits: Weightlossmex.com
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