Study Reveals Consumer Preference for AI-Generated Food Images and Potential Risks

Researchers have found that consumers generally prefer AI-generated images of food over real food images, especially when unaware of their true nature. Published in Food Quality and Preference, the study reveals that AI-generated food visuals enhance appeal by leveraging features like symmetry, shape, glossiness, and lighting. Even subtle adjustments in positioning, such as avoiding objects pointing towards the viewer, may increase attractiveness.

Participants in the study consistently rated AI-generated images as more appetizing when unaware of their origin, raising concerns about promoting “visual hunger” and cue-induced eating of unhealthy foods. Moreover, AI tends to depict foods as more energy-dense than reality, potentially influencing unhealthy eating behaviors. The study underscores potential risks of exacerbating unrealistic expectations and harming sustainability efforts.