Stress-induced food intake: The effect of mental health-related psychological distress on food intake in the context of acute stress. What determines an individual’s vulnerability to consume more food in the context of stress?

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Stress is argued to influence an individual’s food intake and, indirectly, their physical health in negative ways. This stress-induced eating behavior will most likely lead to adverse physical health effects like obesity. Specifically, this research aimed to examine whether mental health-related psychological distress from anxiety and depression positively influences an individual’s food intake moderated by education. To test this, 65 participants completed a self-reported questionnaire called the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale to assess their mental health and were exposed to an acute stressor. Afterward, their food intake was assessed. Mental health-related psychological distress was found to have a no significant effect on food intake after experiencing acute stress. Additionally, the interaction between mental health-related psychological distress and education was also non-significantly related to food intake under the experience of acute stress. These results suggest that more extensive research is needed on stress-induced eating behavior since prior literature shows compelling evidence of significant relationships between stress and food intake. By addressing a comprehensive range of influential stressors in different experimental settings, possible significant associations between stress and food intake may be revealed. Nevertheless, more research on the negative effects of stress-induced eating can prevent society from corresponding adverse health effects.
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