A bowl of ice cream after a nasty breakup may not do as much damage as you think. Despite the emotional turmoil, people on average do not report gaining weight after ending a relationship, says a new study.
According to the researchers, it has been well documented that people sometimes use food as a way to cope with negative feelings and that emotional eating can lead to unhealthy food choices.
“Our research showed that while it’s possible people may drown their sorrows in ice cream for a day or two, modern humans do not tend to gain weight after a breakup,” said study author Marissa Harrison, Associate Professor at Penn State University in the US.
Break-ups can be stressful and emotional. They could trigger emotional eating. “Food was much scarcer in the ancestral environment so if your partner abandoned you, it could have made gathering food much harder,” Harrison explained.
For the study, published in the Journal of the Evolutionary Studies Consortium, the researchers completed two studies to test the theory that people may be more likely to gain weight after a break-up.
In the first one, the researchers recruited 581 people to complete an online survey about whether they had recently gone through a breakup and whether they gained or lost weight within a year of the breakup. Most of the participants – 62.7% – reported no weight change, revealed Hindustan Times.
For the second study, the researchers recruited 261 new participants to take a different, more extensive survey which asked whether they had ever experienced the dissolution of a long-term relationship, and if they gained or lost weight after.
The survey also asked participants’ attitudes toward their ex-partner, how committed the relationship was, who initiated the breakup, whether the participants tended to eat emotionally, and how much they enjoy food in general.
While all participants reported experiencing a break up at some point in their lives, the majority of participants – 65.13% – reported no change in weight. “The only thing we found was that women who already had a proclivity for emotional eating did gain after a breakup. But it wasn’t common,” Harrison added.
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