Why Do We Crave Comfort Foods?

For many people, feelings of stress lead to periods of eating high-calorie and high-fat comfort foods. Now scientists are a step closer to knowing why, and consequently closer to developing ways to help treat and prevent stress-related obesity.

Led by researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center, a recent mouse study suggests that the "hunger hormone" ghrelin plays a role in stress-induced indulgence in comfort foods. "This helps explain certain complex eating behaviors and may be one of the mechanisms by which obesity develops in people exposed to psychosocial stress," said author Dr. Jeffrey Zigman.

In the research study, normal mice placed under social stress responded by gravitating toward a chamber they knew contained comfort food, while mice genetically engineered not to respond to stress-induced increases in ghrelin did not. "Our findings show that ghrelin signaling is crucial to this particular behavior and that the increase in ghrelin which occurs as a result of chronic stress is probably behind these food-reward behaviors," Dr. Zigman explained.

While this response to stress may have provided a survival advantage for earlier humans, in modern society it seems to be more detrimental, leading to obesity and health problems. As researchers better understand how ghrelin and stress interact, we may find new ways to protect our healthy by modifying these stress-induced eating behaviors.

Source: Medical News Today
Photo: Pexels

Anxiety Support Groups

More Articles

As anyone who has experienced one knows, anxiety attacks are very frightening episodes of intense fear or panic. In addition to the severe...

There are side effects to anxiety that we all experience, I call them the aftermath of a stressful and anxiety-ridden period. This aftermath...

Just because a thought visits your mind does not mean it is true. Negative thoughts about yourself and speculation about what’s going to happen...

Making choices can be anxiety provoking, especially if our ideas about the decision are riddled with judgments.

Getting rid of self-...

Cortisol is a steroid hormone that is produced in response to stress, and it is a necessary part of the fight or flight response that helps the...

More Articles

One problem that anxiety can cause is head pressure. It is not a symptom discussed as often as some others, maybe because not everyone who...

Selective serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, or SNRIs, are a type of antidepressant often prescribed for anxiety disorders. They are a...

A report in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity concludes that consumption of omega-3 fatty acids may reduce inflammation and reduce anxiety. The study...

Published in the journal Neuron, research suggests that there may be a single protein that can turn cortisol production on and off, one of only a...

There has been a reluctance to group video game addiction into the same category of other types of addiction, like drug or alcohol abuse, but the...

During the winter months, when it’s always raining, my yellow Labrador has fairly constant anxiety. The sound of thunder breaking outside is...

When it comes to treating social anxiety disorder, there are three types of medication that are commonly prescribed: antidepressants,...

Findings by researchers from Michigan State University adds to the growing evidence that links a common parasite to suicide attempts.

The...

While life’s stresses surely contribute to anxiety, people suffering from severe anxiety symptoms often find that they are struggling against...

Although it seems improbable, Robert S. Wilson, Ph.D., of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, and his colleagues say that they found a...

Lexapro is an SSRI antidepressant that is FDA approved for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). It is one of the antidepressants...

An individual who avoids situations that could cause him or her to experience intense fear may fit the diagnostic criteria for agoraphobia. This...

When you consider common symptoms of anxiety, such as a pounding heart, sweating, and dizziness or lightheadedness, it seems obvious that anxiety...

Tenormin (known generically as atenolol) is a beta blocker often used to control the physical symptoms of anxiety. Beta blockers are quite...

It's easy to feel like you're the only one feeling anxious in performance situations, whether it's giving a speech in front of a few people or...