Sweet craving and ghrelin and leptin levels in women during stress

Appetite. 2014 Sep:80:264-70. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2014.05.031. Epub 2014 May 28.


Ingesting sweet substances in excess may attenuate the effects of stress in women and impact leptin levels, which are also affected by alcohol dependence and overeating. Excess intake of sweet substances also influences ghrelin levels, involved in the onset of food intake and stress. This paper aimed to identify sweet craving (SC) in women with stress to assess how it impacts basal leptin and active ghrelin levels, anthropometric measurements, and body composition. This observational, transversal study included 57 women and used the Stress Symptoms Inventory Lipp in Adults (ISSL); it verified that 31 of the participants were stressed, whereas 26 were symptom-free. The Questionnaire for Assessment of Sweet Substance Dependence and Abuse helped to characterize SC. ELISA furnished leptin and active ghrelin serum levels. HOMA was also evaluated. Electrical bioimpedance provided body composition values. Among the women with stress, 77.42% had SC, and they behaved differently from women without SC. Women with SC exhibited significantly higher basal leptin levels (P < 0.01), but women with and without stress did not differ statistically in terms of leptin levels. Active ghrelin levels in stressed and non-stressed women and in women with and without SC were similar. A larger number of women with SC presented body fat percentage higher than 30% (P < 0.04). Stressed women had significantly higher waist circumference than non-stressed women (P < 0.02).

Conclusion: Stressed women are more prone to SC, and this condition is associated with increased basal leptin levels, larger hip circumference, and altered body composition.

Keywords: Ghrelin; Leptin; Stress; Sweet craving.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Composition
  • Body Mass Index
  • Craving / physiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Ghrelin / blood*
  • Humans
  • Leptin / blood*
  • Logistic Models
  • Middle Aged
  • Stress, Psychological*
  • Waist Circumference
  • Young Adult


  • Ghrelin
  • Leptin