Shaking Off Loneliness

The New York Times:

I now know why I gained more than 30 pounds in my early 20s: I was lonely. I had left my beloved alma mater upstate for graduate school and a job in the Upper Midwest. I knew no one and felt like a fish out of water.

I filled my lonely nights and days with — you guessed it — food. Anything I could get my hands on, especially candy, cookies and ice cream. Food filled the hole in my soul, at least temporarily.

No matter how hard I tried, I could not rein in my out-of-control eating until I returned to New York and my family, and began dating my future husband.

Loneliness, says John T. Cacioppo, an award-winning psychologist at the University of Chicago, undermines people’s ability to self-regulate. In one experiment he cites, participants made to feel socially disconnected ate many more cookies than those made to feel socially accepted. In a real-life study of middle-aged and older adults in the Chicago area, Dr. Cacioppo and colleagues found that those who scored high on the U.C.L.A. Loneliness Scale, a widely used psychological assessment, ate substantially more fatty foods than those who scored low.

Read the whole story: The New York Times

See John T. Cacioppo at the 25th APS Annual Convention.

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