the binge-eating files » Stress

The latest articles and research on stress and binge eating, food addiction, emotional eating, weight

Scientist discovers potential brain link between stress, emotional eating   ScienceDaily (Nov 27, 2023) — Molecule may connect threatening events with the desire to overeat high-fat foods. Scientists describe how they identified a molecule that may trigger over-consumption of comfort foods after a threatening event…. more

Comfort food leads to more weight gain during stress   ScienceDaily (Apr 25, 2019) – Australian researchers have discovered a new molecular pathway in the brain that triggers more weight gain in times of stress. It’s no secret that overindulging on high-calorie foods can be detrimental to health, but it turns out that under stress, watching what you eat may be even more important. A team led by Professor Herbert Herzog, Head of the Eating Disorders laboratory at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, discovered in an animal model that a high-calorie diet when combined with stress resulted in more weight gain than the same diet caused in a stress-free environment. The researchers revealed a molecular pathway in the brain, controlled by insulin, which drives the additional weight gain. … more

Prenatal stress predisposes female mice to binge eating  ScienceDaily (May 30, 2017) – Stress changes our eating habits, but the mechanism may not be purely psychological, research in mice suggests. A study has found that stressed mouse mothers were more likely to give birth to pups that would go on to exhibit binge-eating-like behavior later in life. The pups from stressed mothers shared epigenetic tags on their DNA, but these markers only made a difference when the researchers put the young offspring into a stressful situation. … more

Appetite-controlling brain circuits in mice may explain stress eating  MNT Medical News Today (Mar 22, 2017) by Ana Sandoiu –  Stress can have a serious impact on our appetite and eating patterns. Using a mouse model, new research examines how the brain controls the appetite, as well as the link between appetite and positive and negative emotions. … more

How stress can tweak the brain to sabotage self-control   ScienceDaily (Aug 5, 2015) – A challenging morning meeting or an interaction with an upset client at work may affect whether we go for that extra chocolate bar at lunch. In a study, researchers placed human volunteers in a similar food choice scenario to explore how stress can alter the brain to impair self-control when we’re confronted with a choice. more …

Stress and obesity: Your family can make you fat  ScienceDaily ( Apr 6, 2015 ) – Adolescent obesity is a national public health concern and, unchecked, places young people on a trajectory for a variety of health issues as they grow older. A new study suggests a relationship between long-term exposure to three specific types of family stressors and children becoming obese by the time they turn 18.  more…

Habits, not cravings, drive food choice during times of stress   ScienceDaily (July 16, 2013) — Putting a new spin on the concept of “stress eating,” research presented at the 2013 Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Annual Meeting & Expo® found that people who eat during times of stress typically seek the foods they eat out of habit — regardless of how healthy or unhealthy that food is.  The research co-authored and presented by David Neal, Ph.D., a psychologist and founding partner at Empirica Research, contradicts the conventional wisdom that people who are stressed-out turn to high-calorie, low-nutrient comfort food.   Link

Male mice exposed to chronic social stress have anxious female offspring    ScienceDaily (Aug. 22, 2012) — A study in mice conducted by researchers at Tufts University School of Medicine suggests that a woman’s risk of anxiety and dysfunctional social behavior may depend on the experiences of her parents, particularly fathers, when they were young.   The study, published online in Biological Psychiatry, suggests that stress caused by chronic social instability during youth contributes to epigenetic changes in sperm cells that can lead to psychiatric disorders in female offspring across multiple generations.   Link

How stress and depression can shrink the brain    ScienceDaily (Aug. 12, 2012) — Major depression or chronic stress can cause the loss of brain volume, a condition that contributes to both emotional and cognitive impairment. Now a team of researchers led by Yale scientists has discovered one reason why this occurs — a single genetic switch that triggers loss of brain connections in humans and depression in animal models.   Link

Force of habit: Stress hormones switch off areas of the brain for goal-directed behaviour  ScienceDaily (July 25, 2012) — Cognition psychologists at the Ruhr-Universität together with colleagues from the University Hospital Bergmannsheil (Prof. Dr. Martin Tegenthoff) have discovered why stressed persons are more likely to lapse back into habits than to behave goal-directed. The team of PD Dr. Lars Schwabe and Prof. Dr. Oliver Wolf from the Institute for Cognitive Neuroscience have mimicked a stress situation in the body using drugs. They then examined the brain activity using functional MRI scanning.  Link

Parents’ work-life stress hinders healthy eating   ScienceDaily (June 22, 2012) — In a tight economy, with fewer jobs, many people end up working harder and sacrificing more to stay employed. A new study finds that one of those sacrifices is sometimes their own and their family’s nutrition.  Link

Decision-making under stress: The brain remembers rewards, forgets punishments   Time:  Healthland (Mar. 5, 2012) by Maia Szalavitz – It’s counterintuitive, but under stress we tend to focus more on the rewards than on the risks of any decision.   If you’re trying to make an important decision while the baby is crying, the boss is shouting on the phone and the cat has chosen this moment to think outside the box, you might want to take a breather and wait. A new review shows that acute stress affects the way the brain considers the pros and cons, causing it to focus on pleasure and ignore the possible negative consequences of a decision.  The research has implications for everything from obesity and addictions to finance, suggesting that stress may modify the way people make choices in predictable ways.   Link

How people-pleasing may lead to overeating: Two new studies remind us that eating habits may be strongly influenced by people around us   Time Health News (Feb. 2, 2012) by Alexandra Sifferlin – Being a people-pleaser might make you popular at parties, but it probably isn’t doing much good for your waistline.  A new study by Case Western Reserve University researchers shows that people-pleasers tend to overeat in social settings in an effort to make other people feel more comfortable. They feel pressure to eat, whether they’re hungry or not, in order to match what people around them are eating. Problem is, they tend regret their choices later.  Link

Do you eat when you’re stressed? This new study knows why    The Globe and Mail (Aug. 11, 2011), by Dawn Walton – A new Canadian study has pinpointed how stress can temporarily rewire the nerve cells in the brain to ramp up hunger pangs. The findings finally put some science behind what people have thought for years.  Link

Ghrelin likely involved in why we choose ‘comfort foods’ when stressed   ScienceDaily (June 29, 2011) — We are one step closer to deciphering why some stressed people indulge in chocolate, mashed potatoes, ice cream and other high-calorie, high-fat comfort foods. UT Southwestern Medical Center-led findings, in a mouse study, suggest that ghrelin — the so-called “hunger hormone” — is involved in triggering this reaction to high stress situations.  Link

Heavy kids, heavy emotions:  Shame, stress and depression often spur further weight gain (Feb. 14, 2010) by Jeanna Bryner  – The ballooning waistlines of children hit the spotlight when Michelle Obama admitted publicly her daughters had an unhealthy body mass index. And while many urge kids to slim down to avoid heart disease and other physical ailments, the emotional consequences from teasing and low self-esteem could be just as debilitating, scientists say.   Link

No Pain, no gain: Mastering a skill makes us stressed in the moment, happy long term   ScienceDaily (Oct. 30, 2009) — No pain, no gain applies to happiness, too, according to new research published online in the Journal of Happiness Studies. People who work hard at improving a skill or ability, such as mastering a math problem or learning to drive, may experience stress in the moment, but experience greater happiness on a daily basis and longer term, the study suggests.  Link

Finding Fear: Neuroscientists locate where it is stored in the brain   ScienceDaily (July 8, 2009) — Fear is a powerful emotion, and neuroscientists have for the first time located the neurons responsible for fear conditioning in the mammalian brain. Fear conditioning is a form of Pavlovian, or associative, learning and is considered to be a model system for understanding human phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder and other anxiety disorders.   Link

Scars of child abuse reach down to genetic level, scientists find (Feb 23, 2009) — Child abuse early in life appears to permanently change how people respond to stress, say researchers in Montreal who studied the brains of suicide victims.    Link

Monkey diets offer new clue on binge eating:  Monkeys under stress more likely to binge on banana chips   abc News (May 21, 2008) by Sharyn Alfonsi, Kiran Khalid and Stephanie Dahle  — Many believe the worst day at work can be curbed by inhaling a big tub of ice cream, but now scientists have found new evidence suggesting that bingeing isn’t our fault — it’s biology.    Link

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