Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Brainwashing to Lose Weight

Swallowing a Lie May Aid in Weight Loss, Research Suggests
A team found it could make people believe that some foods sickened them as children.

In their battle against the bulge, desperate dieters have tried drugs, surgery, exercise, counseling, creams and even electrical fat-burning belts.

Now some psychologists have a new idea: subtle brainwashing.

A team led by psychologist Elizabeth F. Loftus of UC Irvine found that it could persuade people to avoid fattening foods by implanting unpleasant childhood memories about them — even though the memories were untrue.

In a paper published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team said it successfully turned people off strawberry ice cream and, in earlier studies, it had done the same with pickles and hard-boiled eggs — in each case by manipulating the subjects to believe that the foods made them sick when they were children.

The scientists say they have also successfully implanted positive opinions about asparagus by convincing subjects that they once loved the vegetable.

The method, if perfected, could induce people to eat less of what they shouldn't and more of what they should, Loftus said. Good memories about fruits and vegetables could be implanted, as well as bad ones about low-nutrient, high-calorie foods.

Is this a good idea?

Isn't this a little scary?

What if you accidently brainwash people not to eat things that later in life they'll desperately need. Maybe you brainwash them accidentally into ingesting far too little calcium or sugar or something like that? Is it easy to undo the changes if needed? Does it become harder (or easier?) with time?

I wonder how long the link between bad memories and food lasts.

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