We examined food consumption in response to a laboratory-induced stressor (two challenging neuropsychological tasks) among non-Hispanic White women categorized as lower or higher in socioeconomic status based on education. The two socioeconomic status groups did not differ with respect to current hunger or baseline dietary habits. Perceived stress was measured pre- and post-challenge. Snacks were offered post-challenge; food consumption was measured by weighing snack bowls pre- and post-offering. Perceived stress increased pre- to post-challenge for both groups, but this effect was stronger for women lower in socioeconomic status. In addition, women lower versus higher in socioeconomic status consumed more food overall and more high-fat sweet food in particular (large effect sizes). These findings provide evidence of socioeconomic status differences in food consumption following an acute stressor.
Keywords: eating; eating behavior; females; socioeconomic status; stress.