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Is It a Bad Idea to Go Shopping When You Feel Hungry?

It’s never a good idea to shop for groceries when you’re hungry. Studies have shown that such an approach can lead to overspending and even buying items that you don’t really need or want. And now, new research from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management suggests that even shopping for non-food items on an empty stomach can lead to the same sort of results. The reason, the researchers say, may be connected to a hormone called ghrelin, which is released by the stomach when you’re hungry. This hormone is known to affect the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain that is involved in reward and motivation.

The hormones made me buy it:

  • Alison Jing Xu, assistant professor of marketing at the Carlson School of Management, says that ghrelin has been shown to make hungry people want to seek out and consume calories.
  • Xu suggests that the release of ghrelin can cause you to want to acquire more of everything when you are hungry. Shoppers, she says, should "feed themselves before they go out.”
  • The researchers conducted a number of experiments to test their theories. In one survey, they found that hungry shoppers spent 64 percent more money than those who were less hungry.

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