How Food Advertisements Construct Artificial Hunger

Have you ever experienced the feeling of extreme hunger while fasting in the holy month of ramadhan? if the answer is yes then this article is for you.


Have you ever experienced the feeling of extreme hunger while fasting in the holy month of ramadhan? if the answer is yes then this article is for you.
Having been able to undergo a holy-month of Ramadhan in other country makes me realized that it’s so much easier than I thought it would be. Why? The argument seems contradictory at first, why would it make fasting easier when no one is practicing it? Here’s my answer. Our brains possess such an incredible power when it comes to adapting to things, and fasting is not an exception. Fasting serves a various purpose; ranging from health to social issue. But in this article, I’m going to talk about the psychological aspects related to fasting which caused by the social activities.

Our brains are wired to survive and this is due to survival mechanism in our brains; One of which is to adapt to hunger. When we’re on fasting we do not constantly feel the pangs of hunger. But instead, we feel the urge to eat when we see any external stimulus. “Hunger pangs usually do not begin until 12 to 24 hours after the last ingestion of food. A single hunger contraction lasts about 30 seconds, and pangs continue for around 30 to 45 minutes, then hunger subsides for around 30 to 150 minutes” (Carlson, 1931). Which means if you’re fasting properly (without any external stimulus) you won’t even have extreme hunger pangs lingering in your mind. So I assume there’s something hidden beneath the surface that creates artificial urgency for foods intake. And I believe our psychological state has a lot to do with the conditions.

Okay, now let’s dive deeper into how things unfold in Indonesia. Fasting in Indonesia is a great experience because the atmosphere of Ramadhan is highly tangible. But on the other side of the coin, Indonesia has lots of food advertising in Ramadhan, often on midday. Entering the holy month of Ramadhan food advertisers has significantly increased their ad spend.







Having been bombarded with lots of messages related to fasting creating a certain tone in our minds and it has altered the sense of hunger in the brain. The moments we see an image of the foods in advertising we’re constantly reminded of the fact that we’re on a mission to withstand our desire for foods. That’s a continuous reminder in literally every corner; from social media to billboard. The moment when we see a food image and then realize we can’t have it straight away that’s the moment our brains starts to generate hunger signals. The effects are strong and pervasive.

The messages are clear to our brains when we receive the external stimulus, we’re fasting and this conditions triggering the brains to generate hunger signals. Which translate to, the feels of extremes ravenous hunger. This is an external stimulus from our surroundings and not because we need a nutrition intake in itself. One of the prominent example when it comes to external stimuli in creating artificial hunger dates back to 1990 when Marcellino conducted research regarding the phenomenon of external stimulus. “it has been established that eating motivation for a generic item like pizza is influenced by the internal state (hunger or at least the reported hunger) as well as by the visual pre-exposure to the corresponding food. These two factors play independently so that even when not very hungry, pre-exposure to a food can enhance the probability of eating it.” (Marcellino, et al, 1990)

On the other hands, in Japan, there are no messages that constantly reminds you that you’re on a mission to withstand your hunger, at the very least there aren’t any significant increase in ads spending from the food industry. Which makes your brains adjust with the new conditions quicker. Everything is normal, just like any other day, except you’re fasting and no one reminds you of that, even the advertising. Compare to Indonesia, the external stimulations in the holy month of Ramadhan are relatively low. Given that in minds, it’s far easier for Muslim to devout to the holy month of Ramadhan because there are not excessive external stimulus that affect us in a subconscious level. The moment we focused our minds towards something else we can barely feel the hunger. At least that’s the case in Japan, where you’re not constantly being reminded by the foods advertising that you’re on a mission to endure the hunger.

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How Food Advertisements Construct Artificial Hunger
Have you ever experienced the feeling of extreme hunger while fasting in the holy month of ramadhan? if the answer is yes then this article is for you.
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