Dieting Makes Us Cranky Study Finds

File this under, “In case you didn’t know…”

A recent report, profiled in the Journal of Consumer Research, shows that people who restrict their food intake in the name of weight loss are more stressed and angry. The study, conducted by authors David Gal, at Northwestern University, in Chicago, and Wendy Liu at the University of California, compiled numerous weight loss studies. The authors wanted to determine if exerting self control leads to anger issues.

In the first study, participants who chose an apple over a chocolate bar for a snack were more likely to chose movies with anger issues than a more relaxed movie. The second study showed that those who were financially responsible (choosing a gift certificate for groceries rather than one for a spa service) showed more interest in looking at angry faces rather than at fearful ones.

The third study indicated that dieters were more in favor of a public policy message that used an anger-inducing appeal – if funds are not increased for police training, more criminals will escape prison – than they were toward a sad message. Finally, study participants who chose a healthy snack over a tastier less-healthy one found a marketer’s message delivered in a dictatorial fashion to be more irritating.

“Research has shown that exerting self-control makes people more likely to behave aggressively toward others and people on diets are known to be irritable and quick to anger,” the authors explain. “Public policy-makers need to be more aware of the potential negative emotions resulting from encouraging the public to exert more self control in daily choices,” the authors wrote.

Has this study confirmed your real life experience? Do you find that self control and restraint in the name of weight loss makes you unfit to be around?


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