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Loneliness and preferences for palatable foods: The role of coping

Sirois, Fuschia M.; Biskas, Marios

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Authors

Marios Biskas



Abstract

Loneliness is an important public health issue with consequences for health-related outcomes. Health-related behaviors is a proposed explanatory pathway. There is some evidence that loneliness influences eating behaviors, although the reasons for this have not been fully examined. In addition, how eating behaviors are conceptualised and the subsequent findings are often inconsistent. Across two studies, we aimed to address these issues by investigating whether loneliness is associated with preferences for palatable over healthy foods, and two possible explanatory pathways: negative affect and using palatable foods as a coping strategy. Study 1 (N = 361) used a within-subjects design to test whether chronic loneliness influenced palatable food preferences in a healthy versus palatable food choice task, and if negative affect and using palatable food to cope explained this preference. Study 2 (N = 163) aimed to replicate the dispositional-correlational associations from Study 1 and experimentally test whether situational loneliness influenced food preferences. In Study 1, the indirect effects of chronic loneliness on preferences for palatable foods was significant for coping motives, ab = 0.0923, SE = 0.0324, 95% CI = [0.0417, 0.1732], but not for negative affect, ab = 0.0035, SE = 0.0486, 95% CI = [-0.0928, 0.0986]. Findings from Study 2 mirrored those from Study 1 with significant indirect effects of loneliness on preferences for palatable foods through coping motives, ab = 0.1831, SE = 0.1027, 95% CI = [0.0338, 0.4680], but not depressive symptoms, ab = -0.1046, SE = 0.2438, 95% CI = [-0.5576, 0.4092]. The loneliness manipulation did not increase state loneliness. Together these findings make important and novel contributions to our understanding of the strategies that lonely people use to cope with the distress they experience, and further highlights susceptibility to eating palatable foods as a potential behavioral pathway linking loneliness to poor health outcomes.

Citation

Sirois, F. M., & Biskas, M. (2023). Loneliness and preferences for palatable foods: The role of coping. Current Research in Behavioural Sciences, 5, Article 100119. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.crbeha.2023.100119

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 23, 2023
Online Publication Date Jun 29, 2023
Publication Date 2023
Deposit Date Oct 23, 2023
Publicly Available Date Oct 23, 2023
Journal Current Research in Behavioral Sciences
Print ISSN 2666-5182
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 5
Article Number 100119
DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.crbeha.2023.100119
Keywords Psychology (miscellaneous); Behavioral Neuroscience
Public URL https://durham-repository.worktribe.com/output/1814998
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