Not only are people with lower incomes more likely to have bad eating habits, but it turns out the effect is psychological, too. A study recently published by researchers at the University of Michigan found that the mere thought of being lower-class led to junk-food and fast-food cravings.
In four studies that each surveyed 500 people, the researchers found that people who were primed to feel like they were of a lower socioeconomic status ate high-calorie, high-fat content foods like pizza and burgers. In other words: The emptier you think your wallet is, the more likely you are to instinctively stock up on high-calorie foods and snacks.
“Our results demonstrate that among humans, the experience of low social class may contribute to preferences and behaviors that risk excess energy intake,” the researchers concluded. “These findings suggest that psychological and physiological systems regulating appetite may also be sensitive to subjective feelings of deprivation for critical nonfood resources (e.g., social standing).”
Psychological factors, therefore, may play more of a role in obesity than previously thought.