Changes in food intake in response to stress in men and women: Psychological factors

Suzanne E. Weinstein, David J. Shide, Barbara J. Rolls, Suzanne E. Weinstein-Dance

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Scopus citations


The relationship between psychological factors and changes in food intake during stress (both during a specific experience and during stress, in general) in 49 men, ages 18 to 34, and 52 women, ages 18 to 35, was assessed using questionnaires. Participants completed the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, the Eating Inventory (which includes scales for disinhibition, cognitive restraint and perceived hunger) the Restraint Scale, the Eating Attitudes Test and the Binge Scale, and reported their height and weight. Men and women were divided into two groups regarding changes in eating habits during stress: increased intake and no increased intake. There were no significant differences between genders in the proportions of participants in each group. However, correlational analyses revealed different patterns of associations for males and females. For females, high scores on disinhibition were significantly correlated with eating more than usual during a specific stressful experience (r = 0.51, p < 0.001) as well as during stress, in general (r = 0.66, p < 0.001), while high scores on cognitive restraint were not. For males, neither disinhibition nor cognitive restraint were associated with the relationship between eating and stress. Scores on disinhibition discriminated over 80% of females who reported increased intake during stress from those who reported no increased intake. In females, the inability to maintain control of self-imposed rules concerning food intake is an important factor in the relationship between stress and eating.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7-18
Number of pages12
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychology(all)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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