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‘Hanger’ is a genuine human emotion, scientist claims

Feeling 'hangry' is all too real

Sabrina Barr
Sunday 06 May 2018 14:52 BST

Feeling so hungry that you can begin to sense intense rage brewing up inside of you is an emotion that the majority of us can probably relate to.

Many may assume that “hanger”, the combination of feeling hungry and angry, is a slang term that was coined with absolutely no scientific basis.

However, according to a scientist, “hanger” is in fact a real emotion that is triggered by our body’s physical response to craving food.

Sophie Medlin, a lecturer in nutrition and dietetics from King’s College, London, outlined the connection between hunger and anger.

“We’ve long recognised that hunger leads to irritability in science,” she said during a recent episode of Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4.

“But the wonderful world of social media has merged the two words for us and now we know it as ‘hanger’.

“When our blood sugars drop, cortisol and adrenaline rise up in our bodies - our fight or flight hormones.”

The release of these hormones can in turn affect the brain, due to the secretion of neuropeptides that control the brain’s chemicals.

“The ones that trigger for hunger are the same ones that trigger for anger and rage and impulsive type behaviours,” Ms Medlin said.

“So that’s why you get that same sort of response.”

Furthermore, reduced levels of glucose in the brain, which occurs when we’re feeling hungry, can make it difficult for us to have control over our emotions and ability to concentrate.

“This lack of concentration can affect everything we do, causing silly mistakes that we’d never normally make,” said Ella Carter and Philip Watts, writers for science and technology magazine How It Works.

“Complying with what’s socially acceptable becomes much harder, which is why you are more likely to snap at someone.”

In January, it was announced that the word “hangry” had officially been added to the Oxford English Dictionary.

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