Loneliness makes one hungrier

Posted on May 2, 2015

Photo: flickr

Loneliness could lead to adverse effects on your health. A new study looks at the possibility that loneliness causes one to feel hungrier than normal, which increases their food intake and put them at risk of obesity.

The participants had to fast for 12 hours before visiting the lab. Upon arrival, they were given a 930 calorie meal to eat. Before they ate the meal and several times during the seven hours afterwards the women rated their hunger level. Their feelings of extreme loneliness has been recorded five months earlier as part of a different study. Their ghrelin levels were also recorded by blood test before the meal and 2 and 7 hours later.
Ghrelin is a hunger hormone that promotes eating.

Those who reported feeling more loneliness, showed higher ghrelin levels at the end of the day, which translates to being hungrier. In another study by the same researchers, they found that women who experienced more interpersonal stress had higher ghretin levels and lower leptin levels. Leptin is a satiety hormone.

The researchers propose that eating is a highly social activity. It is adaptive. With loneliness, hunger encourages eating, which encourage greater social relationships. Eating comfort food may prompt relationship thoughts as well. People may feel hungry when they are social disconnected because they have either implicitly or explicitly learned that eating could help them to feel socially connected to others.

Category(s):Social Isolation

Source material from British Psychological Society