Daily hassles and eating behaviour: the role of cortisol reactivity status

Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2007 Feb;32(2):125-32. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2006.11.006. Epub 2007 Jan 2.


Previous research has shown high cortisol reactors to consume a greater amount of snack foods than low reactors following a laboratory stressor. The current study tested whether high cortisol reactors also consume more snacks than low reactors in response to field stressors. Fifty pre-menopausal women completed a laboratory stressor, provided saliva samples to assess cortisol reactor status and then completed daily hassles and snack intake diaries over the next fourteen days. Hierarchical multivariate linear modelling showed a significant association between daily hassles and snack intake within the overall sample, where an increased number of hassles was associated with increased snack intake. This significant positive association between number of hassles and snack intake was only observed within the high cortisol reactors and not within the low cortisol reactors. These findings suggest that high cortisol reactivity to stress promotes food intake. Furthermore, the eating style variables of restraint, emotional eating, external eating and disinhibition were more strongly associated with snack intake in high reactors than in low reactors. This suggests that cortisol reactivity may in part account for the moderating role of eating style on stress-induced eating. The results are discussed within the context of future health risk.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Algorithms
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Eating / physiology
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology*
  • Female
  • Glucocorticoids / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / metabolism
  • Hydrocortisone / physiology*
  • Individuality
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*


  • Glucocorticoids
  • Hydrocortisone