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Nutr Rev. 2012 Feb;70(2):118-31. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2011.00447.x.

Improving the effectiveness of nutritional information policies: assessment of unconscious pleasure mechanisms involved in food-choice decisions.

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  • 1Unité Mixte de Recherche Laboratoire d'économie appliquée de Grenoble, the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, Université Pierre Mendès France, Grenoble, France.


The rise in obesity in many countries has led to the emergence of nutritional information policies that aim to change people's diets. Changing an individual's diet is an ambitious goal, since numerous factors influence a person's food-choice decisions, many of which are made unconsciously. These frequently subconscious processes should not be underestimated in food-choice behavior, as they play a major role in food diet composition. In this review, research in cognitive experimental psychology and neuroscience provides the basis for a critical analysis of the role of pleasure in eating behaviors. An assessment of the main characteristics of nutritional policies is provided, followed by recent findings showing that food choices are guided primarily by automatic emotional processes. Neuroimaging and behavioral studies, which provide new insights into the relationships between emotions and food both in lean persons and in persons with eating disorders, are reported as well. Lastly, the argument is presented that future nutritional policies can be more effective if they associate healthy food with eating pleasure.

© 2012 International Life Sciences Institute.

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