Scientists claim looking at pictures of fattening foods can help women resist temptation.

In a study by Dutch researchers, women were shown either a photo of chocolate cake or a photo of a flower without being told why.

They were then asked how important healthy eating was to them before being offered the choice of a chocolate or oatmeal biscuit.

Those shown the cake picture placed a far higher priority on good nutrition and were more likely to go for the healthier oatmeal snack.

"The use of pictures to stimulate the brain here is very clever," said psychologist Quilliam said.

"Many of us go blindly through our day without reminders to think about watching our weight. The result is that we are more likely to make unconscious or impulsive decisions to eat unhealthy foods. But seeing a picture of something yummy will trigger alarm bell reminders in the part of our brain responsible for choice between learned 'good' and 'bad' foods."

Nutrition expert for The Sun, Amanda Ursell, believes the researchers are right to focus on the mental aspect of unhealthy eating.

"In the past, diet studies were all about calorie restriction without any thought to what causes overeating in the first place," Ursell said.

"Yet the only way to keep weight off is to make sure your head is in the right place. If you can get someone to stand back and realize why they choose the foods they do before you even talk about cutting calories, half the battle is won."

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