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Nikoline Bach Hyldelund

PhD Student

Nikoline Bach Hyldelund


PhD project: REWARD-EAT: The role of psychological stressors on food reward and eating behaviour

University: Aarhus University
Department: Department of Food Science, Food Quality Perception & Society
Supervisor: Derek V. Byrne, Professor, Science Team Leader

Co-supervisor: Barbara Vad Andersen, Assistant Professor

Project term: 010420 - 310323
Master’s degree: MSc in Food Innovation & Health, University of Copenhagen



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.


Collaboration Partners

This PhD project is associated with the RewardFLUX and OmniSam projects at the Food Quality Perception & Society group at Department of Food Science at Aarhus University.

The PhD project is furthermore part of the Sino-Danish Centre of Education and Research.


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