Threats to Belonging, Immune Function, and Eating Behavior: an Examination of Sex and Gender Differences
- 111 Downloads
Purpose of Review
The first goal of this review is to discuss the evidence linking belonging threats to immune function and food intake. The second goal is to evaluate whether the links among belonging threats, immune function, and eating behavior differ based on gender.
Threats to belonging are linked to elevated herpesvirus antibody titers, dysregulated appetite-relevant hormones, and increased food consumption. Furthermore, these relationships are largely consistent for both men and women. Threats to belonging are also linked to elevated inflammation. However, some studies showed that these effects were stronger among women, others demonstrated that they were stronger among men, and others determined that the links were consistent for men and women.
Understanding why belonging threats are inconsistently linked to inflammation across men and women is an important next step. We conclude the review with four concrete recommendations for researchers studying belonging threats, immune function, and eating behavior.
KeywordsNeed to belong Loneliness Close relationships Immune function Eating Ghrelin
Compliance With Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent
This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.
Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: •• Of major importance
- 1.•• Baumeister RF, Leary MR. The need to belong: desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation. Psychol Bull. 1995;117:497–529. This paper provides a conceptual framework for understanding the need to belong, and the importance of this need for mental and physical health. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- 2.Bowlby J. Attachment and loss. New York, NY: Basic Books; 1969.Google Scholar
- 3.Maslow AH (1968) Toward a psychology of being. 2nd ed. D. Van Nostrand, Oxford England.Google Scholar
- 4.Tooby J, Cosmides L (1996) Friendship and the banker’s paradox: other pathways to the evolution of adaptations for altruism. In: Runciman WG (Ed), Smith JM, Dunbar RIM (eds) Evol. Soc. Behav. Patterns Primates Man. Oxford University Press, New York, NY, pp 119–143.Google Scholar
- 5.•• Robles TF, Slatcher RB, Trombello JM, McGinn MM. Marital quality and health: a meta-analytic review. Psychol Bull. 2014;140:140–87. This is the most recent meta-analysis summarizing links between marital quality and health, and it provides a comprehensive and up-to-date review of the literature. This meta-analysis concluded there were no gender differences in the health outcomes they examined. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- 22.•• Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Newton TL. Marriage and health: his and hers. Psychol Bull. 2001;127:472–503. This is an older meta-analysis summarizing links between marital quality and health. This meta-analysis concluded there were gender differences in the health outcomes they examined. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- 25.Nabipour I, Vahdat K, Jafari SM, Pazoki R, Sanjdideh Z. The association of metabolic syndrome and Chlamydia pneumoniae, Helicobacter pylori, cytomegalovirus, and herpes simplex virus type 1: the Persian Gulf Healthy Heart Study. Cardiovasc Diabetol. 2006;5:25. https://doi.org/10.1186/1475-2840-5-25.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- 27.Glaser R, Jones J. Human herpesvirus infections. New York, NY: Dekker; 1994.Google Scholar
- 34.Sompayrac LM (2015) How the immune system works. John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
- 36.•• Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Loving TJ, Stowell JR, Malarkey WB, Lemeshow S, Dickinson SL, et al. Hostile marital interactions, proinflammatory cytokine production, and wound healing. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2005;62:1377. This was a seminal paper examining the relationship between marital interactions and immune function. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- 38.Brooks KP, Gruenewald T, Karlamangla A, Hu P, Koretz B, Seeman TE Social relationships and allostatic load in the MIDUS study. Health Psychol doi: https://doi.org/10.1037/a0034528, 2014.
- 39.Hasselmo K, Mehl MR, Tackman AM, Carey AL, Wertheimer AM, Stowe RP, Sbarra DA (2017) Objectively measured social integration is associated with an immune risk phenotype following marital separation. Ann Behav Med.Google Scholar
- 51.Steptoe A (2012) Socioeconomic status, inflammation, and immune function. Oxf. Handb. Psychoneuroimmunology.Google Scholar
- 61.Buss J, Havel PJ, Epel E, Lin J, Blackburn E, Daubenmier J. Associations of ghrelin with eating behaviors, stress, metabolic factors, and telomere length among overweight and obese women: preliminary evidence of attenuated ghrelin effects in obesity? Appetite. 2014;76:84–94.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- 69.•• Jaremka LM, Belury MA, Andridge RR, Malarkey WB, Glaser R, Christian L, et al. Interpersonal stressors predict ghrelin and leptin levels in women. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2014;48:178–88. This was the first paper to examine threats to belonging and ghrelin levels among humans. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar