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NewsBites October 2016 Issue

Boredom Fuels Unhealthy Eating

Craving candy, chips and fast food? Maybe you're just bored. Two studies presented at a meeting of the British Psychological Society support previous research linking boredom to unhealthy eating habits. In one, 45 participants watched either a dull or a funny video while being offered a variety of snacks; those viewing the uninteresting video gobbled much more salty and sugary snacks. In another experiment, the same researchers quizzed 52 volunteers on their food preferences before and after participants repeatedly copied a string of letters. After the repetitive chore, preferences for chips, sweets and fast food went up.

"These results are in line with previous research suggesting that we crave fatty and sugary foods when we are bored," said lead investigator Sandi Mann, PhD, of the University of Central Lancashire. "This strengthens the theory that boredom is related to low levels of the stimulating brain chemical dopamine and that people try to boost this by eating fat and sugar if they cannot alleviate their boredom in some other way."

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