Going Through Tough Times Spurs Consumption Of More High-Calorie Foods, Study Suggests

The Surprising Thing That's Affecting Your Waistline

Stress-eating is most definitely a thing.

A new study in the journal Psychological Science shows that in tough times, people are more likely to seek out high-calorie foods. Specifically, when we're primed with news that we're going through "tough times," that is what leads to the consumption of more caloric foods.

"Now that we know this sort of messaging causes people to seek out more calories out of a survival instinct, it would be wise for those looking to kick off a healthier new year to tune out news for a while," study researcher Juliano Laran, who is an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Miami School of Business Administration, said in a statement.

The study consisted of several experiments. In one of the experiments, study participants thought that they were taste-testing a new kind of M&M -- half of them thought they were testing a new low-calorie M&M, while the other half thought they were testing a new higher-calorie M&M. However, the M&Ms were really the same -- the researchers were actually seeing how many of the M&Ms the study participants consumed after they were exposed to posters that had messages of adversity and struggle, or posters that just had neutral sentences on them.

Researchers found that the study participants who were exposed to the adversity and struggle posters and given the supposedly high-calorie M&Ms ate more of them than those exposed to the same posters but who were given the low-calorie M&Ms. Researchers also did not find an association between M&M consumption and viewing the neutral posters beforehand.

Another thing that could spur people to want more high-calorie food? Not eating breakfast, according to a past study presented at the annual meeting of the Society of Neuroscience. Specifically, that research showed that there is more brain activation in response to high-calorie items when a person has skipped breakfast, compared with when a person ate a morning meal.

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