Getting ‘hangry’ is very real and can become chronic, new study reveals

National News
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BARNET, ENGLAND – APRIL 9: A young Barnet fans eats a burger prior to the Nationwide Conference match between Barnet and Halifax Town at the Underhill Stadium on April 9, 2005 in Barnet, England. (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Of course…we knew it all along. 

The word “hangry” is defined by Merriam-Webster as “irritable or angry because of hunger.” 

New research published in the Journal of Pharmacology is showing why everything can become annoying when you’re hungry — and why tempers get more short. 

Researchers say it’s all caused by sudden drops in blood sugar. 

That drop in blood sugar comes with mood changes, the study authors said. 

“We found evidence that a change in glucose level can have a lasting effect on mood,” said study author Francesco Leri, from the psychology department at the University of Guelph in Canada.

“I was skeptical when people would tell me that they get grouchy if they don’t eat — but now I believe it. We found evidence a change in glucose level can have a lasting effect on mood,” Leri added.

For the study, researchers injected rats with a glucose blocker that caused low blood sugar. 

At other times, the rats got an injection of water. 

In each case, the rats were put into different chambers. 

When choosing which chamber to go inside, the rats avoided the chamber where they had experienced low blood sugar, according to the study. 

“This type of avoidance behavior is an expression of stress and anxiety,” Leri said. “The animals are avoiding that chamber because they had a stressful experience there. They don’t want to experience it again.”

Blood tests after the incidents of low blood sugar show more of the hormone corticosterone, which is an indicator of physiological stress. 

The rats also seemed more sluggish when given the sugar blocker. 

“But when we gave them a commonly used antidepressant, the sluggish behavior was not observed. The animals moved around normally. This is interesting because their muscles still weren’t getting the glucose, yet their behavior changed,” he noted.

The researchers plan to analyze next if chronic hypoglycemia from habitual meal skipping or poor eating habits is linked to depression.

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