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Clin Psychol Sci. 2016 May;4(3):363-375. Epub 2015 Jul 29.

Novel Links between Troubled Marriages and Appetite Regulation: Marital Distress, Ghrelin, and Diet Quality.

Author information

1
Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of Delaware, Newark, DE.
2
Department of Human Sciences, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH.
3
College of Public Health, The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Columbus, OH.
4
Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research, The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Columbus, OH.
5
Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, The Ohio State University Medical Center, Columbus, OH.
6
Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research, The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Columbus, OH; Comprehensive Cancer Center, The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Columbus, OH; Department of Internal Medicine, The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Columbus, OH.
7
Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research, The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Columbus, OH; Comprehensive Cancer Center, The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Columbus, OH; Department of Psychiatry, The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Columbus, OH.

Abstract

Distressed marriages enhance risk for health problems; appetite dysregulation is one potential mechanistic pathway. Research suggests that ghrelin and leptin, appetite-relevant hormones connected to shorter and longer-term energy balance, may differentially affect people with a higher versus lower body mass index (BMI). During this double-blind randomized crossover study, both members of a couple (N=86 participants) ate a standardized meal at the beginning of two visits. Observational recordings of a marital conflict assessed marital distress. Ghrelin and leptin were sampled pre-meal and post-meal at 2, 4, and 7 hours. Diet quality was measured using the USDA 24-Hour Multiple-Pass Approach. People in more distressed marriages had higher post-meal ghrelin (but not leptin) and a poorer quality diet than those in less distressed marriages, but only among participants with a lower BMI. These effects were consistent for both spouses. Ghrelin and diet quality may link marital distress to its corresponding negative health effects.

KEYWORDS:

diet; ghrelin; hunger; interpersonal relationships; marriage; obesity

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