Trying to Eat Our Way to Stress Relief

Trying to eat our way to stress relief

In the United States, the majority of adults are overweight or obese, increasing their risk for Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.1 Obesity is a major contributor to preventive death in the U.S. and can raise morbidity risks associated with chronic diseases, such as hypertension, stroke, respiratory problems and various cancers.2 Research also shows connections between stress and food. People tend to seek high-calorie, high-fat foods during periods of stress, though in fact, when people are stressed, their bodies store more fat than when they are relaxed.3 While many factors contribute to the nation’s weight challenges, the Stress in America™ survey suggests that stress influences our eating habits.

Many adults report engaging in unhealthy eating behaviors as a result of stress and say that these behaviors can lead to undesirable consequences, such as feeling sluggish or lazy and feeling bad about their bodies.

Thirty-eight percent of adults say they have overeaten or eaten unhealthy foods in the past month because of stress. Half of these adults (49 percent) report engaging in these behaviors weekly or more.

Thirty-three percent of adults who report overeating or eating unhealthy foods because of stress say they do so because it helps distract them from stress.

Twenty-seven percent of adults say they eat to manage stress and 34 percent of those who report overeating or eating unhealthy foods because of stress say this behavior is a habit.

In the past month, 30 percent of adults report skipping a meal due to stress. Forty-one percent of adults who report skipping a meal due to stress report doing it weekly or more.

The majority of adults (67 percent) who report skipping meals due to stress attribute it to a lack of appetite. Twenty-six percent say they skipped a meal because they did not have time to eat.

After having overeaten or eaten unhealthy foods, half of adults (49 percent) report feeling disappointed in themselves, 46 percent report feeling bad about their bodies and more than one-third (36 percent) say they feel sluggish or lazy. After skipping meals due to stress, 24 percent say they feel sluggish or lazy and 22 percent report being irritable.

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