Words by Francesca Specter.
We’ve always known “hangry” was a thing – now science has finally given us the confirmation.
Hanger, short for hunger/anger, is that sudden mood change you get when you’re feeling extra peckish.
Symptoms can include sudden fits of rage, irrational tears (“The nearest Pret is HOW far away?”) and full on rows with significant others.
Now the smart researchers at the University of Guelph have seen fit to investigate this phenomenon – and the results were conclusive: hanger is real.
“We found evidence that a change in glucose level can have a lasting effect on mood,” said Prof. Francesco Leri, Department of Psychology, who co-authored the study.
“I was sceptical when people would tell me that they get grouchy if they don’t eat, but now I believe it. Hypoglycemia is a strong physiological and psychological stressor.”
In the study, which was carried out on rats, subjects were injected with a glucose metabolism blocker which made them experience hypoglycemia, also known as low blood sugar. Some of us will have experienced a mild version of this condition after skipping meals or after heavy exercise.
The researchers found higher levels of corticosterone – an indicator of physiological stress – in the rat’s blood after they experienced the hypoglycemia.
The study findings linked low blood sugar with symptoms such as stress and depressed mood.
Commenting on the results, lead author Thomas Horman, a PhD student, said: “When people think about negative mood states and stress, they think about the psychological factors, not necessarily the metabolic factors. But we found poor eating behaviour can have an impact.”
He added: “The factors that lead someone to develop depression and anxiety can be different from one person to the next. Knowing that nutrition is a factor, we can include eating habits into possible treatment.”
Well, that’s our mid-morning Kit Kat justified.
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