Hunger Can Cause You to Make Bad, Hangry Choices, Science Says


Texted your ex? If you can't blame it on the booze, blame it on the hunger.

According to a new study from the University of Gothenburg, the hormone your stomach releases when you're hungry can take a toll on your decision-making skills and impulse control. Science Daily reported that the university's researchers studied the hormone, called ghrelin, in rats, and found that when it was in their system the rats were unable to delay gratification and make "rational decisions."

Read more: Here's What Happens to Your Body When You Eat When You're Not Hungry

Researchers trained the rats and gave them two separate tasks: When asked, press a lever and be rewarded with sugar or, when specifically asked not to, resist pressing the lever and receive a sugar treat. But even if they had mastered the study's reward system, rats were more likely to press the lever when they were asked not to — even though to do so would be to forfeit their reward — after researchers injected them with ghrelin.

Basically: These rats shouldn't head to the grocery store any time soon.

Aside from being impulsive, health experts have discovered the irritability you feel when you're hungry (known as "hanger") has a scientific basis too. 

While the solution to hunger and hanger is a simple one (eat), University of Gothenburg researchers said their latest findings may offer some perspective into more complicated issues. Since impulsiveness is associated with the likes of ADHD, OCD, autism, eating disorders and addiction, university docent Karolina Skibicka said the insights into ghrelin's effects can help specialists get a better understanding of how they work. 

"Our results indicate that the ghrelin receptors in the brain can be a possible target for future treatment of psychiatric disorders that are characterized by problems with impulsivity and even eating disorders," Skibicka told Science Daily.

In the meantime, get snacking.