This question may seem funny, but I think biology must have good answers. I think no more explanation is needed.

I really thought about this and searched for an answer, but there is nothing yet. If you know some thing about or have some thing which may lead to good answer(s) please express.

Also, do animals portray the same behavior in such situations?

  • $\begingroup$ :( Please don't be wrong with my question. I really think there most be a good answer to this in biology. thank you $\endgroup$
    – MySky
    Jan 23, 2013 at 9:18
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    $\begingroup$ Why do you say they don't feel the same way? Most people enjoy seeing sexual images of attractive people, and seeing these pictures makes them want to have sex. Most people also enjoy seeing pictures of particularly delicious food, and seeing these pictures makes them hungry. Seems pretty similar to me. $\endgroup$
    – octern
    Jan 24, 2013 at 5:41
  • $\begingroup$ Look Octern, There is no eating movies to be like porno movies. $\endgroup$
    – MySky
    Jan 25, 2013 at 19:02
  • $\begingroup$ foodnetwork.com $\endgroup$
    – octern
    Jan 25, 2013 at 21:21
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    $\begingroup$ I think this could be off topic here unless you want some in-depth details into the biological side rather than psychological. $\endgroup$
    – Irfan
    Jan 27, 2013 at 12:31

4 Answers 4


Sexual arousal, in and of itself, is pleasurable in a way that hunger is not.

As to why this is, perhaps visual stimulation and anticipation improves the sexual function of animals more than it improves eating. One possible explanation is sperm competition.

Either arousal state can be induced by visual stimuli. However, the respective hormones work differently. Ghrelin doesn't affect hunger and feeding(1) the way that dopamine affects arousal and mating(2). Also, starvation has been found to decrease dopamine concentration(3) in those same areas that sexual stimulation increases it(4).


For these two phenomena to create the same feelings all of the time, the physiology that engenders these feelings would have to be the same. All I can do is point out that these have been separate and distinct even in yeast and bacteria and invoke a likelihood argument.

The impulse for hunger is almost as old as living things. In bacteria, cyclic Adenosine mono phosphate (cAMP) mediates hunger, though this does not appear to be universal.

Sexual reproduction appeared much later - in the single celled eukaryotes mating factors for instance are mediated by the MATa/alpha receptors.

In animals like C elegans the differences persist (hunger, mating). This is not a precise argument, but there is the entropy argument - the odds of these 2 signals evolving together biochemically or genetically is quite unlikely given how separate they have always been.

That's not to say that eating food can't create a sexual arousal, but it does not do so all the time. The sexual response appears to be plastic and adaptable to nearly any sort of stimulus. The fact that in primates and many other animals, the pleasure stimulus is related to both mating and eating might make them seem like similar impulses, but when you go deeper it doesn't seem plausible. So the two could hypothetically create the same feeling, but if you are asking why doesn't it usually... then there are lots of reasons why.

I find it helpful to reverse the question and ask - what would happen to a species where you could suppress the mating impulse by eating? Probably not an adaptation that would survive long.


Why people like to see pornographic scenes, but do not feel the same about eating scenes?

Well, the whole point of watching porn is sexual arousal. (Or research for the curious, but that's another thing)

Watching someone eat delicious-looking food CAN make people feel hungry. I admit, I have a bad tendency of feeling hungry if I see good food, or if I see someone eating good food.

But I don't get the point of the question. Are you wondering if most people feel this way about watching someone eat, or are you wondering if people are AROUSED by watching someone eat? Lol. Some clarification would be useful.

EDIT: Ok, I think I get it now. You're wondering why aren't there any "food scenes" for food-loving people? Well, it's not as widely prevalent as porn, but it IS there for those who are into it.

Example: http://foodporndaily.com/explore/food/

^ One of my favourite sites, actually.


People can satisfy their sexual urges on their own (that is, without a sexual partner) through masturbating. They cannot satisfy their hunger on their own (that, without food).

I suppose people could eat one food while looking at another kind of food pretending that the food they are eating is the one that they are watching, but where's the fun in that?

Having sex with an attractive person is an indicator of biological desirability ----- namely that another human being wants you in the way you want to be wanted due to your accomplishments or social status. Thus, people watch or read porn to satisfy their need to be accepted or to make them feel as if they are such a person with accomplishments or social status or to compensate for things not going their way in life and subsequently masturbate to such porn.

As for hunger, a better analogy for porn would be taking those kind of drugs that make you feel less hungry.

So yeah, for sex, people watch porn. For hunger, people do not compensate for their inability to eat by looking at food that they cannot have. They would probably take drugs or something. I'm not quite sure if such a thing exists, but I swear one of my grade school teachers said that there was some kind of drug that makes people stop feeling hungry.

I think a better analogy for looking at food they cannot have is looking through pictures of a lustful or romantic interest with his/her romantic partner.

This may sound like a stupid answer that is more philosophical than biological from some loser with 1 reputation. I request commentary along with any downvotes.

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    $\begingroup$ Can you please make this a real answer with references? $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Jul 15, 2015 at 20:29
  • $\begingroup$ @Chris This may sound naive, but who needs references to logic? If I prove to you 1+1=2, do you need a reference? $\endgroup$ Jul 16, 2015 at 12:31
  • $\begingroup$ @Chris If I could, I would comment that the question is wrong. OP's analogy is wrong. The analogue of watching porn, falsely satisfying one's sexual desires without a sexual partner, for food is not looking at food but rather falsely satisfying one's hunger without food namely taking drugs. $\endgroup$ Jul 16, 2015 at 12:36

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