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Would you like fries (or onion rings or chicken tenders) with that?

Don't Go To McDonalds When You're Hungry

20080508-cheeseburger.jpgA recent study at McGill University in Montreal, Canada proved that ghrelin, a hunger-inducing hormone in our gut, enhances the image of junk food's yumminess. The stimulant is naturally activated when hungry, causing quarter pounders and greasy pizza to look overwhelmingly tasty and unavoidable, as if we're junkies looking at crack.

Coverage of this study at science fiction blog io9 was assigned the following headline: Fast Food Joints Add Hormone to Food That Makes You Want to Eat More. Despite this insinuation of food tampering, the McGill study never said that. Or aimed to prove that.

Along with the headline, the entry created a scandalous tone by noting, "since ghrelin isn't regulated, a fast food restaurant that wanted to sell more food could easily turn it into an additive in their hamburgers or donuts, essentially 'addicting' people to their food.." But as far as we know, Ronald McDonald hasn't done that. Most commenters responded with "aha!" remarks. As if, all this time, we've been duped into eating fries laced with a crack-like drug. See, it's not my fault I wolfed down that entire extra-value meal, readers must have been thinking.

Instead, the study proves that when we're hungry, we're vulnerable. Just like Mama always said: don't go to the grocery store when famished. You'll buy tons of crap you don't need. The same goes for any fast food joint. Mr. Ghrelin the Cunning Hormone will jump out and talk you into that double-bacon cheeseburger you don't really want. He's the sneaky one here, not necessarily the fast food lords.

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