‘Food Porn’ is Making You Fat, Buzzkill Scientists Say, Pinterest Weeps

“Food porn,” as it is commonly called, sounds illicit — but if you’re a fan, you know it as a relatively harmless way of excising your high-calorie urges as well as a nice visual field trip into a land where cookies, brownies and ice cream all co-exist in a tastebud-titillating landscape.

Food porn almost feels like a guilty pleasure, so tied into indulgence and our guilt processes are diet and eating — but the food porn habit is a mostly harmless one, in which we can indulge without worrying about jiggly thighs and health risks like diabetes… right? Right?

It’s kind of funny, because if you open up Pinterest, it’s half disembodied torsos of women with tooth-chipping abs superimposed with some phrase about lapping everyone on the couch and the virtue of having a concave abdomen and a space between your thighs — and half pictures of deep-fried marshmallow fluff sandwiches drizzled with Nutella. It’s like the inner torment of the female, body-hating brain splayed out over so many visually appealing squares on a website, tagged for easy searching.

But new research reveals that even merely looking at food porn, be it a plate of fries with cheese and bacon or cookies baked into cookies baked into cookies for a sort of stoner’s dream of Cookieception, can mess with your brain in fat-promoting ways. Bummer.

food porn fitspirationi09 explains that new research presented at a meeting of weight specialists referencing a study in which overweight Hispanic women were shown images of healthy food, “food porn” food, and non-food — and the food porn made the reward sectors of people’s brains light up:

“At the Endocrine Society’s 94th Annual Meeting in Houston, Dr. Kathleen Page is presenting research into the way the brain’s reward systems interacts with sugar intake, and images of food. Her research hooked 13 obese, Hispanic women from the ages of 15-25 up to an fMRI, and took brain readings, while showing them pictures… whenever people looked at the food, the areas of the brain that are thought to be related to reward and appetite lit up — and this was truer with the high-calorie images than the low-calorie ones.”

So food porn, perhaps like real porn, can wiggle its way eventually into your diet-planning decisions. Will you be deleting your cake boards?