Study cracks how the brain processes emotions

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Looking to lose weight? Think of your next workout as a fun activity or as a well-deserved break – not exercise – and you’ll eat less and lose more weight, according to a new study from Cornell University Food and Brand Lab.

Published in Marketing Letters, the new study analyzed the eating habits of people after walking 2 km – half the participants were told the walk was exercise, while others were told it was a scenic walk. Researchers found that those who believed they completed an exercise walk ate 35 percent more chocolate pudding for dessert than those who had been on a scenic walk. On a different occasion, those thinking they had taken an exercise walk ate 206 more calories ­– 124 percent more calories – than those who had been told they were on a scenic walk.

According to researchers, the study shows one reason why people in new exercise programs often find themselves gaining weight – new exercisers have a tendency to reward themselves by overeating after their workout.

For beginning or veteran exercisers, the bottom line is: “Do whatever you can to make your workout fun.  Play music, watch a video, or simply be grateful that you’re working out instead of working in the office,” said Brian Wansink Director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab. “Anything that brings a smile, is likely to get you to eat less.”

Media note: A short video of Brian Wansink explaining the research, as well as a graphic can be found at

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