RewardEat: The role of psychological stressors on food reward and eating behaviour

Projekter: ProjektForskning



It is well believed that overconsumption as a result of non-homeostatic hunger is one of the main reasons for the current prevalence of obesity. Whether this over-consumption is explained by an excessive ‘wanting’ or craving for certain foods or perhaps finds its reasoning in some people having a reduced sensitivity for pleasure, and thereby have to eat more to fulfil expectations, is yet to be discovered.
Another possible reason for over-consumption have been found in ‘stress-induced eating’ or ‘comfort eating’. Being stressed can cause non-homeostatic hunger and overconsumption leading to obesity, as food intake can dampen the physiological and behavioural stress responses. It is hypothesized that the pleasure from food is one of the main reasons for this comforting effect of food when being stressed. Thus, living in a stressful environment may alter what we find pleasurable as well as how much food is needed to reach an optimal level of pleasure.
However, to fully understand the mechanisms behind non-homeostatic hunger, a much more nuanced notion of the concept, and thus also tool for measuring food derived pleasure, is needed.

The aim of my PhD project is to explore the rewarding effects of food related experiences in general, as well as how environmental and psychological stressors may affect these reward mechanisms, and consequently also behavioural approaches to food. Furthermore, the PhD aims to further develop and validate a new method for measuring pleasure derived from food only.
Effektiv start/slut dato01/04/202031/10/2023