November 20, 2013, by khyx2lyn

Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) – Stress Induced Food Cravings

Continuing with the Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition series, here is Adila Alias’ research titled “Stress Induced Food Cravings.”


My research looks at stress induced food cravings with race being the manipulating variable. Race, in this context, represents the ethnicity or the ethnic group For example; would it be safe to say that I, being a Malaysian Malay, am more inclined to turn to spicy, chili laden foods when faced with stress?


The reason why I chose to look at race being the variable in question for my research is because based on past studies done in this field; there has not been much emphasis on individual differences when it comes to food selection. When in fact it is what I feel the most important factor to consider when studying food choice. Also, since it is common knowledge that race and stress, independently, affect food selection, I am curious to find out if there is a relationship between these two factors after an individual has been exposed to a certain amount of stress.


So, in my research, the stress in question refers acute, minute stress. So, a standardized stress test which comprises of 3 tasks will be carried out as a method to induce stress on my participants. The tasks involved are public speaking, mental arithmetic task and solving anagrams. Method wise, I will expose my participants to this stress task and after that, present an array of different types of food which they can then select for consumption. The results I hope to find will be no different from a Food Frequency Questionnaire (FFQ) the same participants have completed prior to the stress task. The FFQ measures the most commonly eaten foods of an individual. For example, if I were to participate in my own study, I would find that the foods I selected post-stress would be spicy foods given that I had selected mostly spicy foods in the FFQ.


Other factors such as mood, general dislike, health and fullness come into question when measuring food selection. I have compiled many types of standardized questionnaires which can help me control for these variables so that a direct link between race and food selection in response to stress would be evident.


I believe that my research provides a strong foundation for nutrition educationists in planning out a proper dietary plan for students; being in multi-cultural environment, this would be most helpful. Also, it would greatly benefit the mentioned party as being in a university or in an academia setting, stress is always present. Also, my research provides not only a new insight into the eating behavior of university students, but perhaps a new coping mechanism towards stress can be found. Furthermore, my research could provide a new perspective for corporations who wish to market their products more effectively.
Adila Alias
(Postgraduate Student, School of Psychology, UNMC)

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