The Comfort Food Drug


Eating fatty and sugary food in response to stress may in the long run dampen the body’s stress response, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco suggest. In a study of 59 premenopausal women published last month in Psychoneuroendocrinology, they found that those who suffered from chronic stress not only reported greater emotional eating and had significantly more abdominal fat, but also had lower levels of diurnal cortisol, the hormone that drives the stress response.

“It is very likely that comfort food intake is a double-edged sword—leading not only to a dampened-down stress response system, but also to greater levels of risky abdominal fat, ” coauthor and UCSF psychologist Elissa Epel, said in a UCSF news story.

Written By: Cristina Luiggi
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  1. Seems obvious that stress responses might be food-related. Nothing much beats the impending risk of starvation to focus one’s attention on food. Maybe except the impending risk of becoming some other organism’s meal. Aside from other environmental stress like physical impact, heat, dehydration, or toxins, then for any non-specific stress seeking additional food energy would be the default response for any organism.

    If other researchers looking at glucose intolerance are right then the resulting impaired hormonal secretions can be added to the growing list as  yet another consequence of chronic glucose exposure. Accumulating abdominal fat being a mitigating response. There’s a difference between a ‘risk factor’ and an actual ‘risk’. Abdominal fat itself isn’t the risk, it’s the body mitigating further damage caused by the problem that is the real underlying risk.

  2. So comfort food actually works at reducing stress, but like most drugs it also has other side effects.

  3. Didn’t know you were a premenopausal woman.

    I don’t care what anyone (research) says, sugar is addictive.

  4. Hi Kat,
    I’m sure there are many things you don’t know about me.

    From the full story:
    “The finding supports the team’s earlier work with rodents, which found that chronic stress leads to abdominal obesity … “


    p.s. I’m not a rat, either.

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