Presentation Title

Honest Placebo Effects on Food Cravings Following a 12-Hour, Overnight Fasting Period

Project Collaborators

Antonio Cepeda-Benito (PI) Thomas Geist (Graduate Research Assistant), Audrey Eisenmenger (Research Assistant), Hannah Dobson (Research Assistant)

Abstract

A new line of products sold as “honest placebos” are advertised as effective for the reduction of symptoms of distress, and for wellbeing enhancement. The present study sought to scientifically examine whether a commercially available honest placebo could reduce hunger and food cravings. Using information made available by the vendor in their marketing pitch, participants received a brief presentation on why and how placebos may help reduce food cravings and hunger. They then were instructed to fast for 12-h and return to the lab for a series of tests and to have breakfast. Participants were given five honest-placebo pills and instructed to take one immediately, one right before their bed time, and one when they woke in the morning. They were also told they could take the remaining two pills as needed to reduce hunger. Upon returning to the lab in the morning, participants were randomly assigned to complete the Food Cravings Questionnaire-State either before or after breakfast. The study also included a non-placebo control group. We hypothesized that participants in the placebo group would report lower food cravings before breakfast than participants in the non-placebo group.

*Data collection complete, analysis in progress

Primary Faculty Mentor Name

Antonio Cepeda Benito

Status

Graduate

Student College

College of Arts and Sciences

Program/Major

Psychological Science

Primary Research Category

Social Sciences

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Honest Placebo Effects on Food Cravings Following a 12-Hour, Overnight Fasting Period

A new line of products sold as “honest placebos” are advertised as effective for the reduction of symptoms of distress, and for wellbeing enhancement. The present study sought to scientifically examine whether a commercially available honest placebo could reduce hunger and food cravings. Using information made available by the vendor in their marketing pitch, participants received a brief presentation on why and how placebos may help reduce food cravings and hunger. They then were instructed to fast for 12-h and return to the lab for a series of tests and to have breakfast. Participants were given five honest-placebo pills and instructed to take one immediately, one right before their bed time, and one when they woke in the morning. They were also told they could take the remaining two pills as needed to reduce hunger. Upon returning to the lab in the morning, participants were randomly assigned to complete the Food Cravings Questionnaire-State either before or after breakfast. The study also included a non-placebo control group. We hypothesized that participants in the placebo group would report lower food cravings before breakfast than participants in the non-placebo group.

*Data collection complete, analysis in progress