Junk Food Diet Ruins Taste for Healthy Food

December 8, 2014

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. impulse /ˈɪm pʌls/ (n.) – an involuntary desire to do something
Example: Seeing her friends eat ice cream, the little girl felt an impulse to eat one as well.

2. reflex /ˈri flɛks/ (n.) – an automatic reaction to something
Example: He has a reflex of eating chocolate when he cries.

3. condition /kənˈdɪʃ ən/ (v.) – to influence someone or something to act in a certain way, especially as a habit
Example: The fitness trainer conditions his students to always have more vegetables on their plate every time they eat.

4. compel /kəmˈpɛl/ (v.) – to pressure someone to do something
Example: She was compelled to stop eating when she was told that she was the most overweight in class.

5. overindulge /ˌoʊ vər ɪnˈdʌldʒ/ (v.) – to consume too much food because it is delicious
Example: During special occasions, the parents let their children overindulge on sweets.


Read the text below.
Regularly eating junk food can develop an impulse against a healthy diet, a study suggests.

The research investigated the food reward instinct of rats by conducting experiments on two groups of rats. The first group was kept on a healthy diet. Because of diet restrictions, these rats acquired a reflex of avoiding flavors that are unfamiliar to them. This reflex prevented them from overeating and allowed them to maintain a balanced diet.

The second group of rats, on the other hand, was first given a junk food diet for a certain period. When the rats were exposed to both healthy and junk food, it was found that they have grown a preference for the latter.

To observe the eating habits of both groups, the researchers conducted another experiment. The rats were conditioned to respond to different sound signals by drinking sugar water. One sound means to drink. Another sound means to stop or to not drink. It was found that the healthy diet rats responded correctly to the signals, while the junk food rats proceeded to drink the sugar water regardless of the sounds.

The experiment further revealed that the healthy diet rats maintained their reflex and avoided drinking sugar water after the experiment. The junk food rats, however, showed no restraint in consuming the water even when they have already had too much.

The researchers concluded that a junk food eating habit not only compels the rats to favor junk food over healthy food, but also to automatically overeat. Because the food reward instinct is similar between rats and humans, the researchers believe that the same impulses of overindulging on unhealthy food can happen to people who frequently eat junk food.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         How can this study benefit humans? Kindly discuss with your tutor.
·         How do you think eating healthy food can be made enjoyable? Please explain your answer.  

Discussion B

·         What do you think are common reasons why some people prefer to eat junk food rather than healthy food?
·         What do you think are common reasons why people over-eat?

December 8, 2014