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How stress can change your food preferences

Washington: Wondering why do you wish to eat a chocolate bar after a stressful meeting? Well, according to the researchers stress can alter the brain to impair self-control when confronted with a choice and can even change food preferences.

Lead author Silvia Maier said that their findings provide an important step towards understanding the interactions between stress and self-control in the human brain with the effects of stress operating through multiple neural pathways.

She added that self-control abilities are sensitive to perturbations at several points within this network and optimal self-control requires a precise balance of input from multiple brain regions rather than a simple on/off switch.

During the study, 29 participants underwent a treatment known to induce moderate stress in the laboratory before they were asked to choose between two food options and an additional 22 participants did not undergo the treatment, which involved being observed and evaluated by the experimenter while immersing a hand in an ice water bath for 3 minutes, before choosing between the food options.

After the study the scientists found that when individuals chose between different food options after having experienced the stressful ice bath treatment, they overweighed food taste attributes and were more likely to choose an unhealthy food compared with people who were not stressed.

The investigators say that their study indicates that even moderate levels of stress can impair self-control.

The study is published in the Journal Neuron. (ANI)