article by home doctor team

New study reveals you really can feel hangry

The term ‘hangry’ is all too familiar for some of us as we fight feeling irritated or grumpy while we become hungrier and hungrier. What if experiencing ‘hanger’ isn’t just in our heads, but a legitimate feeling?

A new study released by researchers from the University of North Carolina has found low blood glucose levels can also trigger the release of stress-related hormones, including adrenaline, cortisol and neuropeptide Y – a chemical which makes people more aggressive.

The study

Researchers behind the study surveyed more than 400 people online and had them complete three simple steps.

  1. Participants were shown an image specifically designed to induce either positive, negative or neutral feelings
  2. Next, participants were shown an ambiguous image and asked to rate it on a seven-point scale, from pleasant to unpleasant
  3. Lastly, participants were asked to rate how hungry they were feeling.

The results

The results of the study were published in the journal Emotion and showed participants who were hungrier were more likely to rate the ambiguous image as unpleasant, though only after being shown a negative image. Those who were shown a positive or neutral image but were also hungry didn’t see any effect.

According to Assistant Professor Kristen Lindquist PhD: “We find that feeling hangry happens when you feel unpleasantness due to hunger but interpret those feelings as strong emotions about other people or the situation you’re in.”

Lead author of the study Jennifer MacCormack also discussed that a person’s emotional awareness has a definite contribution to their risk of going from hungry to hangry.

“We all know that hunger can sometimes affect our emotions and perceptions of the world around us, but it’s only recently that the expression hangry, meaning bad-tempered or irritable because of hunger, was accepted by the Oxford Dictionary.”

Know someone who’s always hangry? Show them this new study!