Worrying About Death Makes You Eat Cookies

According to a story in New Scientist, a study has found that thoughts of death make us eat more cookies. Naomi Mandel at Arizona State University, and Dirk Smeesters at Erasmus University in Rotterdam asked 746 students to write essays on one of two topics: their death or a visit to the dentist. The participants also filled out a questionnaire designed to gauge their level of self-esteem. Cookies were made available. The subjects with low self-esteem who wrote about death ate more cookies. Apparently consuming is a distraction (or salve?) for thoughts of death. "When you indulge in shopping or eating, it helps you forget yourself," says Smeesters. Surely right now you are thinking: Duh.

But the article notes that we're living in a world where triggers for thinking about death are everywhere — from a news report on Iraq, Burma or China to a car accident you see on the way to work — is it any wonder there's an obesity epidemic in this nation? The question is, what can we do about it? Is there a way to escape our escapism? Distract ourselves from our distraction? Why does soothing your mental heath mean hurting your physical health? Why, mother nature, why? And if you're thinking about death all the time and eating cookies all the time, aren't you just incresing your chances of dropping dead? Sigh. The next time anyone says anything about you snacking, tell 'em you're trying to deal with your crippling thoughts of mortality. And have another cookie.

Thoughts Of Death Make Us Eat More Cookies [New Scientist]