Implanted memories of ice-cream-induced illness seem to create an aversion to the fattening treat. Psychologists at the University of California at Irvine had volunteers answer a questionnaire about their eating history. All subjects received the same false but plausible sounding summary of their eating patterns, which claimed that strawberry ice cream had once made them sick. After being encouraged to reflect on the alleged sickness, up to 40 percent of study participants reported they were less willing than before to eat strawberry ice cream. The deceit, also previously demonstrated to be effective with low-fat foods, did not work on more commonly eaten munchies such as potato chips, however, and still has to be tested for its long-term effects and sway during actual noshing, says Elizabeth Loftus, co-author of the August 3 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA online report.
This article was originally published with the title "Remember Wrong to Eat Right" in Scientific American 293, 4, 33 (October 2005)