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Why Do We Like Junk Food So Much?

The theory of a specialist in Evolutionary Psychology relates this type of food to evolution. Thousands of years ago, our ancestors searched for food with a series of components, which are precise what junk food has. Have you ever wondered why you like junk food so much? Flavour is an important factor, of course, but there are others.

Junk Food

David Buss, professor of Psychology at the University of Austin, in Texas, the United States, specialized in Evolutionary Psychology, considers that the main reason for this attraction is evolution.

Thousands of years ago getting food were quite a challenge. So, with the resources they had, this activity was slow and, in many cases, dangerous: they could die trying. So, to survive, they developed an unconscious mechanism to quickly identify which foods were worth investing time and effort in and which were not.

A Learned and Inherited Strategy

According to Buss, these foods had various components, related to basic body functions. Namely: fats, sugar and salt. Sugar, loaded with glucose, is used to produce energy. Fats are another source of energy, which act when the reserves are depleting. And salt regulates sodium needs, which in turn helps control body fluids and nerve impulses.

These three ingredients are present in fast food. According to the professor, this ancestral strategy of food selection still lingers in us, our brain continues to associate foods rich in them as beneficial.

Fast Food Activates the Brain’s Reward Systems

A research conducted by a team of Yale University supports his theory. They conducted a study of 200 people, showing them photographs of familiar foods while taking an MRI of the brain to check their response. They concluded that the neural circuits in the brain’s reward system were activated more when the participants viewed images with foods high in fat and carbohydrates.

Dana Small, the lead author of this study, explains that “the brain overestimates its energy value” and therefore wants it more.

Chemical Enhancers

However, this evolutionary reaction is not the only one to explain why we like junk food so much. We know that the industry that makes this type of food adds certain ingredients to generate more taste and addiction. This is the case of flavour enhancers, which stimulate the taste glands and produce a greater feeling of satisfaction.

The monosodium glutamate, for example, is common compound burgers and pizzas, which inhibits our sense of satiety, causing it takes us longer to fill and continue eating without stopping.

To know more

The consequences of diet on our health are being examined in detail. You can learn more about this in the Netflix documentary What the Health. You can also find out which have been the most decisive in our history in The food that changed the world, on Movistar +.

And, if you are also a Fusion Client and you have the UHD Decoder at home, remember that with the #SeguimosConectados App you can exercise from home to stay in shape with guided exercise videos.