Guilt may be an effective motivator in some scenarios, but it could actually backfire when it comes to achieving weight-loss goals, according to a new study.
Researchers from the University of Canterbury found that people who associate guilt with eating chocolate cake are more likely to have less control over their eating, and are less likely to maintain their weight over a year-and-a-half time span.
Medical Daily reported that the study, published in the journal Appetite, involved asking about 300 adults, with ages ranging from 18 to 86, about whether they associated chocolate cake with guilt or celebration. They found that 73 percent of the study participants associated it with celebration, while 27 percent associated it with guilt.
The researchers found that people who associated chocolate cake with guilt had no greater intentions to eat healthy than those who associated the cake with celebration, nor did they have more positive attitudes about heating eating.
People with goals to lose weight who associated chocolate cake with guilt also were less successful at losing weight over three months, compared with their counterparts who associated the cake with celebration.
There are some foods that tend to be more associated with guilt than others. In a 2009 study in the same journal, researchers from the Netherlands found that candy and ice cream consumption were linked with the greatest guilt among college-aged women. Feelings of guilt were also more common with food consumption during social situations, as well as with the eating of snacks before dinner, or between meals in the afternoon.