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Low stress level linked to less fast food consumption

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New York, March 12 (IANS) If you have lower levels of stress, there are chances that you will consume lesser fast food, finds a new study.

When the researchers assessed the potential role of stress as a mediator, the indirect effect of the intervention — reducing participants’ perceived stress — was associated with less consumption of high-fat foods, including fast food.

“We used the women’s testimonies in the videos and showed their interactions with their families to raise awareness about stressors. After watching the videos, a lot of intervention participants said, ‘This is the first time I’ve realized I am so stressed out’ – because they’ve lived a stressful life,” said lead author Mei-Wei Chang from The Ohio State University.

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“Many of these women are aware of feeling impatient, and having head and neck pain and trouble sleeping – but they don’t know those are signs of stress,” Chang added.

An analysis of the study data showed that the women’s lowered perceived stress after participating in the intervention was the key factor influencing their eventual decrease in consumption of high-fat and fast foods.

“It’s not that these women didn’t want to eat healthier. If you don’t know how to manage stress, then when you are so stressed out, why would you care about what you eat?” Chang said.

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For the study, published in the journal Nutrients, the team involved 338 overweight or obese mothers aged between 18 and 39.

The 16-week programme was aimed at preventing weight gain by promoting stress management, healthy eating and physical activity.

During the trial, the 212 participants randomised into the intervention group watched a total of 10 videos in which women like them gave unscripted testimonials about healthy eating and food preparation, managing their stress and being physically active.

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