Stress and Food Preferences - Study | Food for the Brain

Stress & Food Preferences (2020)

This study explored stress & food preferences. 232 Flemish students completed a food frequency questionnaire and psychological tests to measure stress levels, during exam period, to determine effects of stress on food choices as part of a longitudinal study.


Diet quality of the students was observed to deteriorate during the exam period in response to stress, with preferences for high fat and sugar foods increased. The study indicated that chronic stress alters food preferences to high fat and high sugar foods. However, the data was from food frequency questionnaires and self reported measures of stress levels. These methods are vulnerable to self reporting biases. Further research which monitors diet whilst taking serum samples of cortisol and other stress-related markers are required to explore these findings further.

Abstract available here

Michels, N., Man, T., Vinck, B., & Verbeyst, L. (2020). Dietary changes and its psychosocial moderators during the university examination period. European journal of nutrition, 59(1), 273–286.