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Effects of stress on eating to be studied

Researchers are to look at the effects of workplace stress on eating habits as part of a major five-year study, it has been disclosed.

Scientists at the University of Aberdeen's Rowett Institute will also examine the causes of food addiction and assess how shift working can affect people's eating.

They plan to recruit 450 volunteers from the surrounding area to help with the study.

The work will form part of a Europe-wide project to try to work out why some people eat too much and run the risk of becoming obese.

Professor Julian Mercer, head of obesity research at the institute, said it was an "extremely prestigious" project.

"The obesity epidemic is driven by our over-consumption of food," he said.

"There are a number of issues that need to be looked at, including work culture and its effect on food consumption as well as the different attributes of food that make it hard to restrict your intake.

"Ideally if we had the information it could allow producers to design food that is still palatable but doesn't have the properties that could make you over-consume.

"Imagine a bar of chocolate that was just as rewarding to eat but which didn't make you feel you have to have the whole block."

Researchers at Aberdeen will look at the effect of stress in the workplace on eating behaviour and whether sweet tastes and rich textures can cause food addictions.

They will also pull together findings from other European researchers and share the information with governments, food and drink producers and health professionals.

Copyright © Press Association 2010

Rowett Institute

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"This is a very interesting concept. I seem to eat more at work and find it a constant battle not to eat rubbish all the time. I think it is linked with stress" - M Mcintyre, Fife