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Growing Up Poor Makes You More Likely to Overeat

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People who grow up in lower socioeconomic circumstances are more likely to make food choices that may not serve their health, according to new research.

A study from Texas Christian University found that childhood environment plays a role in adult hunger.

"Our research finds that growing up poor promotes eating in the absence of hunger in adulthood, regardless of one's adult socioeconomic status," said lead researcher Dr. Sarah Hill.

Hill and her team recruited 31 women for the study, where researchers manipulated the energy needs of the participants and then gave them the opportunity to eat.

Participants who had a higher socioeconomic status (SES) as children ate more when their energy needs were high than when their energy needs were low. The women who grew up in low SES households, however, did not follow this pattern - they ate comparable amounts of food regardless of their energy needs.

A 'complex set of factors'

According to the researchers, a person's developmental history can play a critical role in eating behaviors, weight management, and his or her relationship to food.

Past research suggests that social disadvantage puts a strain on the individual's capacity to cope, which may lead to coping behaviors such as overeating, smoking, or drug and alcohol use.

"Current research is underway to examine the mechanisms that promote the association between low childhood SES and eating in the absence of hunger," a press release on the study stated.

Source: Society for Personality and Social Psychology