[Study] Stress and eating behaviors


(Meeping up the Science!) #1

Many high carbohydrate foods are hyperpalatable and trigger a very strong response in the brain which affects behavior. Here is a decent article about how the neuroendocrine response (partially) works.

Obesity is a heterogeneous construct that, despite multiple and diverse attempts, has been difficult to treat. One conceptualization gaining media and research attention in recent years is that foods, particularly hyperpalatable (e.g., high-fat, high sugar) ones, may possess addictive qualities. Stress is an important factor in the development of addiction and in addiction relapse, and may contribute to an increased risk for obesity and other metabolic diseases. Uncontrollable stress changes eating patterns and the salience and consumption of hyperpalatable foods; over time, this could lead to changes in allostatic load and trigger neurobiological adaptations that promote increasingly compulsively behavior. This association may be mediated by alterations in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, glucose metabolism, insulin sensitivity, and other appetite-related hormones and hypothalamic neuropeptides. At a neurocircuitry level, chronic stress may affect the mesolimbic dopaminergic system and other brain regions involved in stress/motivation circuits. Together, these may synergistically potentiate reward sensitivity, food preference, and the wanting and seeking of hyperpalatable foods, as well as induce metabolic changes that promote weight and body fat mass. Individual differences in susceptibility to obesity and types of stressors may further moderate this process. Understanding the associations and interactions between stress, neurobiological adaptations, and obesity is important in the development of effective prevention and treatment strategies for obesity and related metabolic diseases.

Keywords: Obesity, Food Addiction, Stress, HPA axis, Mesolimbic Dopaminergic System

(Tom Seest) #2

When I have to work stressful hours, I find myself eating, but it’s usually something like nuts or cheese.

Not necessarily a great habit, as nuts raise my BG readings, but I view it as temporary so I don’t worry about it.

(Meeping up the Science!) #3

The study is interesting because it focuses on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis which is implicated in addictions. I think ketogenic diets don’t encourage this as much as higher carb diets. Higher carb food triggers a cascade response with dopamine. Hyperpalatable food typically means processed carbs and sugars, because we react to those neurologically the strongest, I’d argue.

I would posit it makes temporary eating of higher carb foods due to stress bad for this reason. It can set off a cascade response that is neurological which propagates crappy food choice.

(Kathy Swanson) #4

This study pretty much supports what Dr. Fung writes about in the Obesity Code. The hypotalamus keeps us searching for food and obessed about food especially after calorie restriction. Our hormones and brain have a lot of power over how we develop food behavior. Thanks for sharing. Very interesting.

(No I'm not mad - that's just my face) #5

This is exactly my experience.