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Stress-Induced Eating Among Racial/Ethnic Groups in the United States: a Systematic Review.

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Racial/ethnic disparities in obesity may be due, in part, to minority groups consuming more energy-rich diets in response to greater stress exposure. The present study systematically reviewed the literature describing the effects of stress on food consumption among various racial/ethnic groups in the US.


PubMed and PsycINFO databases were searched for studies reporting associations between stress and food consumption by different racial/ethnic groups, conducted between January 1, 1999 to November 25, 2019. The search included terms related to food consumption, stress, and race/ethnicity. After screening 3660 records, 30 studies were included for review.


The selected studies assessed diverse stressors and eating constructs; African-American and Hispanic/Latinx were the most commonly studied minority groups. Studies generally supported that diverse forms of stress exposure are associated with reduced healthy eating patterns and increased obesogenic eating patterns across racial/ethnic groups. However, studies that directly compared stress-eating associations among multiple racial/ethnic groups showed mixed results.


Members of diverse racial/ethnic groups are susceptible to stress-induced unhealthy eating patterns, though evidence is insufficient to conclude whether the degree of susceptibility differs among groups. Additional studies utilizing observational measures of food intake and culturally sensitive measures of stress are needed to identify the most influential stressors on dietary behaviors, to assess whether some stressors are more salient for given racial/ethnic groups, and to examine the extent to which stress-induced eating contributes to racial/ethnic disparities in obesity and obesity-related diseases.

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