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Keywords:

  • adults;
  • stress;
  • appetite;
  • restraint;
  • food intake;
  • comfort foods

The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between comfort food preferences of adults when under normal (nonstressful) and stressful conditions. A total of 185 university faculty completed on InQsit, a 31-item Stress-Eating Survey. Sixty-seven percent experienced changes in appetite when stressed, with 69% having an increase in appetite and 31% a decrease. Under stressful conditions, participants chose a wider variety of sweet (p ≤ .001) and salty/crunchy foods (p = .004). High-restrained eaters chose significantly more types of sweet foods (p = .031) and beverages (p = .020) than low-restrained eaters. Variety of mixed dishes significantly decreased (p = .048) with increased age. This research suggests that majority of adults may experience an increased appetite with stress and may choose more types of sweet and salty/crunchy foods. Under normal and stressful conditions, it appears that gender, age, and restraint level may also influence comfort food choices.