Exploring comfort food preferences across age and gender

Physiol Behav. 2003 Sep;79(4-5):739-47. doi: 10.1016/s0031-9384(03)00203-8.


Building on findings related to physiological and psychological motivations of food preference, this research develops a framework to examine preferences toward comfort foods. Study 1 used a North American survey of 411 people to determine favored comfort foods, and Study 2 quantified the preferences for these foods across gender and across age groups using a stratified sample of 1005 additional people. Consistent with hypotheses, the findings showed different comfort food preferences across gender and across age. Males preferred warm, hearty, meal-related comfort foods (such as steak, casseroles, and soup), while females instead preferred comfort foods that were more snack related (such as chocolate and ice cream). In addition, younger people preferred more snack-related comfort foods compared to those over 55 years of age. Associations with guilty feelings underscored how these different preferences between males and females may extend to areas of application.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Affect*
  • Age Factors
  • Attitude*
  • Eating / psychology*
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Food Preferences / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Sex Factors