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Bored people more prone to snacking

Published 13/04/2015

Academics say people who are bored are more prone to snacking
Academics say people who are bored are more prone to snacking

Comfort eaters have been served up hope with new research suggesting they would just as happily reach for healthy food - if it was a little more exciting.

In a study of eating habits and emotions, academics found people who are bored are more prone to snacking.

But given a choice of nibbles, the fed up were just as likely to plump for a cherry tomato as they were an unhealthy sweet.

Andrew B Moynihan, lead researcher on the University of Limerick study of more than 140 people, said it shows humans graze between meals to escape boredom.

"Luckily, there is hope," he added. "The unhealthy consequences of eating can be avoided if healthy, exciting food is available to people who feel bored."

In the three-pronged study, 33 people were asked to complete a diary over a week charting their boredom levels, alongside what foods they ate.

The more restless they were the more fat, carbohydrates and protein they consumed.

However, there was no desire in the disinterested for high fibre foods.

In a second phase of the study, 79 students were analysed on how aware they were of their emotions.

The more self-aware someone was, the more likely they were to snack when bored.

Thirdly, another 44 students who were shown a sad film and a "boring" video clip were offered bowls of healthy crackers, cherry tomatoes and unhealthy sweets.

Those who watched the video clip were more likely to eat sweets.

But significantly, say the academics, they were also more likely to reach for the cherry tomatoes, which previous tests had found to be deemed more "exciting" than the crackers.

The study has been published in the international journal Frontiers In Psychology.

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