Is Stress Taking the Pleasure Out of Food?—A Characterization of the Food Pleasure Profiles, Appetite, and Eating Behaviors of People with Chronic Stress

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Abstract

Psychological stressors frequently occur in modern society, and are associated with general anhedonic traits (inability to experience pleasure) and altered eating behavior. As eating behavior is largely motivated by a desire for pleasure, the Food Pleasure Scale (FPS) was introduced as a new research tool for investigating aspects of pleasure from food-related experiences. Thereby, insights on whether some aspects of pleasure are more affected by stress than others can be investigated, and can help explain why changes in eating behavior are seen when under the influence of stress. A consumer survey including n = 190 Danish consumers all with moderate or high levels of perceived stress was conducted to explore the perception of pleasure from food, general appetite, meal patterns, as well as specific food preferences. The study showed that the majority found pleasure in the sensory modalities of food, as well as in the ‘comforting’ aspects of food pleasure. Furthermore, the moderately stressed respondents had fewer main meals and more post-dinner snacks and night meals, as compared to before falling ill, whereas the highly stressed group showed signs of anhedonic traits and losing appetite altogether. The present study contributes to our understanding of how a common condition, such as chronic stress, can affect individual, as well as public, health.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1980
JournalFoods
Volume11
Issue13
ISSN2304-8158
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jul 2022

Keywords

  • anhedonia
  • appetite
  • consumer
  • eating behavior
  • food pleasure
  • stress

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