Does Being Hungry make even the most rational people lose their ability to think clearly?

giphy(Telegraph) Hungry, ratty, angry: you must be ‘hangry’

By Nilufer Atik 1:00PM GMT 27 Feb 2015

Are you prone to making bad or rash decisions? Do you sometimes struggle to think clearly? You could be suffering from a new affliction

When faced with major decisions such as whether to accept a marriage proposal or job offer, or start a family, most of us apply considerable thought before choosing to go one way or another. But while it might help to have a clear head when pondering such life-changing events, it isn’t a good idea to have an empty belly. In fact, being hungry, and as a consequence ratty, might lead to huge errors of judgment, according to a new study. And the results could prove catastrophic. We could end up with the wrong mate, in a job we hate, or even with a brood we weren’t quite ready for.

Researchers have discovered that being hungry and angry at the same time – “hangry” is the newly coined term – can drastically affect our decision-making skills. So much so that we are 62 per cent more likely to get things wrong.

The study, led by food psychologist Dr Christy Fergusson and commissioned by malt loaf makers Soreen, involved a series of clinical trials conducted on a group of men and women between their early 20s and mid-60s. The aim was to find out what makes people angry when they are hungry and how this affects cognitive function.

Initially, less than a third, 27 per cent, of participants who had gone for at least four hours without food managed to find the correct solutions to the problems. But after the snack break almost half, 48 per cent, could. Only 129 out of 480 questions were answered correctly while participants were hungry – compared with 231 questions while not hungry. Interestingly, female participants were found to respond best on a fuller stomach, with a 30 per cent improvement in their ability to make decisions after satisfying their hunger. Among men, this figure was 10 per cent.

The groups were also asked to rate their levels of irritation both before and after eating. Post-food, levels of annoyance dropped by 40 per cent. The participants also reported feeling calmer, happier, and more cooperative.

The findings back up the theory that a low level of blood sugar not only brings on mood swings, but can also cause even the most rational people to lose their ability to think clearly, meaning they might make rash and sometimes risky decisions.

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