London: Bad news on TV can make people add kilos as viewers increase food intake by a whopping 40 per cent when bombarded by gloomy bulletins, researchers say.
The study found that people increased their food intake considerably and also craved for more calorie-dense unhealthy foods.
The research shows a direct link between eating patterns and depressing news items.
Scientists have urged the would-be slimmers desperate to shed a few pounds to switch off the TV or radio news if they want to get their weight down.
Obesity has emerged as a major burden on the National Health Service (NHS) and the number of people admitted to hospital for obesity-related illnesses has risen more than ten-fold in the past decade in the UK.
Hearing a constant barrage of bad news could be making the problem worse, researchers from the University of Miami said.
The volunteers who tasted two bowls of sweets were told that one type was very high in calories and the other very low. In fact, they were identical in calorie content.
Before the test, each volunteer was shown either posters that contained neutral sentences, or posters with sentences describing struggle and adversity in tough economic times.
The results showed people shown the gloomy messages not only ate 40 per cent more in total than the other group but scoffed 70 per cent more of the high-calorie sweets.
Those who viewed the neutral posters ate roughly the same amount of each.
"It is clear from the studies that taste was not what caused the reactions, it was a longing for calories," study leader Juliano Laran, from the university`s School of Business Administration, said.
"Now that we know this sort of messaging causes people to seek out more calories out of a survival instinct, it would be wise for those looking to kick off a healthier new year to tune out the news for a while," said Laran.
The study was published in the journal Psychological Science.