If you get cravings for chips, sweets and fast-food whenever you are bored, do not blame the situation alone. According to British researchers, people eat more to boost low levels of brain chemical dopamine as they cannot alleviate the boredom in any other way.
The results showed that people were more likely to express a preference for unhealthy foods like crisps, sweets and fast food after completing the boring task.
“This strengthens the theory that boredom is related to low levels of the stimulating brain chemical dopamine and people try to boost this by eating fat and sugar if they cannot alleviate their boredom in some other way,” said Dr Sandi Mann from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).
Mann and colleagues Faye Ibbitson and Ben Edwards conducted two studies of boredom and food choices.
In the first study, the team asked 52 participants to complete a questionnaire on their food preferences before and after completing the boredom-inducing task of repeatedly copying the same group of letters.
In the second study, they asked 45 participants to watch either a boring or a funny video, during which a range of healthy and unhealthy snacks were available.
They found that the participants who had watched the boring video ate significantly more unhealthy food.
“Health education campaigns can encourage us to make healthier food choices need to take boredom, including boredom in the workplace, into account. Bored people do not eat nuts,” Mann stated.
The study was scheduled to be presented at the annual conference of the British Psychological Society this week.