Gene x cognition interaction on stress-induced eating: Effect of rumination

Robbie Schepers, C. Rob Markus*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


People often crave for high-caloric sweet foods when facing stress and this 'emotional eating' is a most important cause for weight gain and obesity. Eating under stress contrasts with the normally expected response of a loss of appetite, yet in spite of intensive research from neurobiological and cognitive disciplines we still do not know why stress or negative affect triggers overeating in so many of us. Since the prevalence of overweight and obesity still rises, the discovery of crucial risk factors is a most desirable goal of today's research on sub-optimal eating habits. This paper summarizes the most relevant current knowledge from the (human) literature regarding cognitive and biological vulnerabilities for stress-induced emotional eating. A (non-systematic) review of the most relevant studies reveals that most studies contemplate a rather one-directional way of focusing on either cognitive or biological factors, showing inconsistent results. The current paper elaborates and/or integrates these findings into a biological-cognitive interaction model in which a specific combination of genetic and cognitive vulnerabilities are thought to increase our bio-behavioral response to stress, critically increasing the rewarding value of pleasant foods and, hence, emotional eating.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-53
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2015


  • Serotonin
  • Emotion processing
  • 5-HTTLPR
  • Stress
  • Tryptophan

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