Being ‘hangry’ is a real thing! Scientists find direct link between hunger and anger


Being ‘hangry’ is a real thing! Scientists find direct link between hunger and anger

  • Word is used to describe someone who is angry because they are so hungry
  • It became popular with rise of internet but made Oxford dictionary in 2018 
  • Participants jotted down hunger level and how they felt five times a day

Being ‘hangry’ is a real thing — not just an excuse, according to science.

The word is used to describe someone who is angry or irritable because they are so hungry.

It was used by millennials and on social media for years but became so widespread by 2018 it was added to the Oxford English Dictionary.

Now scientists say for good reason after finding hungriness is directly linked to our emotional wellbeing.

Participants were asked to jot down how hungry they were and how they felt five times a day using an app.

Lead author Professor Viren Swami, a psychologist from Anglia Ruskin University in London, said there was a ‘surprising’ lack of research on being hangry.

‘By following people in their day-to-day lives, we found hunger was related to levels of anger, irritability, and pleasure,’ she added.

She hopes by proving being hangry is a real thing, people will recognise and snap out of it.

Being ‘hangry’ is a real thing — not just an excuse, according to science. Researchers found hungriness is directly linked to our emotional wellbeing (file image)

Professor Swami said: ‘Many of us are aware that being hungry can influence our emotions, but surprisingly little scientific research has focused on being “hangry”.

‘Although our study doesn’t present ways to mitigate negative hunger-induced emotions, research suggests that being able to label an emotion can help people to regulate it, such as by recognising that we feel angry simply because we are hungry.

‘Therefore, greater awareness of being “hangry” could reduce the likelihood that hunger results in negative emotions and behaviours in individuals.’

Researchers recruited 64 people from central Europe, who recorded their levels of hunger and various measures of emotional wellbeing over a 21-day period.

They reported hungriness and their emotions on a smartphone app five times a day.

Hunger was associated with 37 per cent of the variance in irritability, 34 per cent of the variance in anger and 38 per cent of the variance in pleasure recorded by the participants.

The effects were substantial, even after taking into account factors such as age and sex, body mass index, dietary behaviour, and individual personality traits.

The findings are published in the Plos One journal.

Professor Stefan Stieger, a psychologist at Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences in Austria, who was involved with the study, said: ‘This “hangry” effect hasn’t been analysed in detail.

‘So we chose a field-based approach where participants were invited to respond to prompts to complete brief surveys on an app. 

‘They were sent these prompts five times a day at semi-random occasions over a three-week period.

‘This allowed us to generate intensive longitudinal data in a manner not possible with traditional laboratory-based research. 

‘Although this approach requires a great deal of effort – not only for participants but also for researchers in designing such studies – the results provide a high degree of generalisability compared to laboratory studies, giving us a much more complete picture of how people experience the emotional outcomes of hunger in their everyday lives.’

In 2019, the BBC’s Good Food magazine included the word ‘hangry’ as part of a gastronomic dictionary to celebrate their 30th birthday.

The phrase dates back to 1956, when it appeared in a psychoanalytic journal, but has only become popular recently.

Cramming all your exercise on the weekend is just as beneficial as being regularly active

Doing all your exercise in one go at the weekend or spreading it out over the week makes no difference in terms of health benefits, research suggests.

A study found no difference in the death rate of ‘weekend warriors’ and people who are regularly active.

That was so long as they got 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week, such as a brisk walk, swim or cycle, or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity.

It indicates the cumulative amount of active minutes is more important than when the exercise actually takes place.

Researchers said the findings are important for people with fewer opportunities for daily or regular physical activity during their working week.

A Chinese-led team of experts looked at 350,978 adults, who had an average age of 41. 

Participants were surveyed about their physical activity levels between 1997 and 2013.

They were then divided by if they did 150 minutes of exercise a week in one-to-two days, three or more days, or didn’t do this amount of exercise at all. 

The researchers then tracked how many participants died in the next decade.

At the end of study, 21,898 of the participants had died — 6,035 from cardiovascular events like heart failure, and 4,130 from cancer.

Weekend warriors were found to have an 8 per cent less chance of dying compared to people who didn’t complete 150 minutes per exercise.

People who spread their exercise out across the week were 15 per cent less likely to die compared to the inactive. 

However, the researchers said no significant differences in mortality were found between weekend warriors and regular exercisers when total time spent exercising was considered.

The team’s findings have been published in the Jama Internal Medicine journal.

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