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J Psychosom Res. 2000 Feb;48(2):195-202.

Stress, dietary restraint and food intake.

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ICRF Health Behaviour Unit, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, London, UK.



The purpose of this study was to examine the associations between work stress and nutritional status in relation to dietary restraint in a community sample of adults.


The design included a cross-sectional and a longitudinal study element. Ninety staff members (58 women and 32 men) of a large department store were assessed on four occasions over a 6-month period with measures of diet, weight, and perceived stress. Work stress was indexed in terms of the hours of work over the past 7 days, which provided an objective indicator of demand.


Participants worked an average of 47 hours on the high-work-stress session compared with 32 hours on the low-work-stress session. The highest work-stress session was compared with the lowest work-stress session in the longitudinal analyses, and the moderating effects of gender and restrained eating were examined. High-workload periods were associated with higher energy and saturated fat and sugar intake. There was a significant moderating effect of restrained eating, with a hyperphagic response to work stress in restrained eaters, compared with no effect in unrestrained eaters.


The results indicate that the associations between restraint and stress-induced eating that have been observed in the laboratory extend to the real-life setting. They raise the possibility that restrained eaters are particularly vulnerable to adverse effects of stress on health, through influences on food intake.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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