The Role of Stress on Black Women’s Food Motivation and Food Choice
University of Kansas
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The highest rates of obesity in the U.S. are among black women with a prevalence of 54.8%. Stress has been associated with differences in eating behaviors, such as emotional eating which can lead to obesity over time. Stress from racism, has also been proposed as contributors to this disparity, but the mechanisms are unclear. The objectives of these studies are to understand the relationship between perceived stress, race related stress, neurological markers of food motivation and food choice. Methods: Study 1 Twenty women with a body mass index (BMI) between 18.5 and 40 were recruited. Self-reported stress was measured using the Perceived Stress Scale and food motivation was measured by examining brain activation to visual food cues when fasted. Study 2 Sixteen women come in fasted for two appointments, randomized to the order of stress exposure in a within subject design. Images from two validated picture sets, intended to induce negative affect, were matched on valence and arousal. Images were classified as race-related and non-race related. Food choice and food demand tasks were completed pre- and post-stress exposure. Results: Study 1 No brain regions were found that showed a positive correlation between food motivation and stress. No significant differences were found in food motivation or stress between healthy weight and obese women. Study 2 Stress after viewing NRR images decreased compared to RR images. Preferences for low fat food increased after viewing RR images. Conclusion: Overall, results of the current study suggest that increased levels of perceived stress are not related in increased activation in a brain region related to food motivation and self-regulation. Different types of stress are associated with changes in food choice in black women.
- Theses 
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