Studies undertaken by a team at the Univeristy of Limerick, in conjunction with the University of Southampton and the University of Kent, show boredom leads to bad eating habits.
The research involved a diary study and two experiments to measure the correlation between boredom and unhealthy eating.
The week-long study showed boredom predicted calorie, fat, sugar, and protein consumption.
A spokesman said: “The experiment showed that boredom increased the desire to consume snacks as opposed to healthy foods, and that boredom increased the actual consumption of less healthy foods.”
The project was part of a larger research programme on boredom experiences and their consequences.
Results showed maladaptive and adaptive eating behaviours are consequences of the need to distant the self from the experience of boredom. Further, healthy food seems to serve as alternative to maladaptive consumption following boredom, if the food is exciting enough.
Lead researcher Andrew B Moynihan said: “People eat these foods in order to escape the unpleasant boredom experience as it reminds them of the meaninglessness of the situation.
“Luckily, there is hope. The unhealthy consequences of eating can be avoided if healthy, exciting food is available to people who feel bored.”