Heading to the kitchen for that pint of strawberry ice cream, bag of chips, or chocolate bar every time you collide with your partner over money, child-rearing, or how to decorate the downstairs family room? According to a study recently published in Clinical Psychological Science, you are not alone. Research conducted at the Ohio State University and the University of Delaware revealed that fighting with your partner and general marital stress can increase an individual’s appetite.
The research teams of both universities reviewed 43 couples, married for over three years, through filming them together. Reviewing footage of partners eating meals together, and trying to work through problems that may have arisen in their marriage; the researchers analyzed how each couple communicated, their levels of hostility, as well as body language (eye rolling, etc.). In addition, the team tracked both individuals’ hormone levels prior to and after their conversations through a series of blood tests; and they charted their diets, weight, Body Mass Index (BMI), and height as well.
When all was said and done, the couples who had hostile conversations, and revealed signs of marital stress showed an increase in ghrelin, the hormone which triggers an individual’s appetite, after the exchange. While these couples also made poor dietary choices overall, these factors were limited to couples who ranged in the normal to overweight BMI (30 or less).
As lead study author Lisa Jaremka, University of Delaware noted, ghrelin not only increases one’s appetite, it also creates a craving for specific foods that are high in sugar, fat, and salt.
The research teams go on to reveal that the couples who experience an increase in appetite could suffer from long-term health complications, like obesity and an increase in emotional eating habits. Over time these behaviors also increase an individual’s risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and oral health issues in the future.