This just in: being hungry can make you shop like a maniac.

Image: Clueless

Even the most even keeled among us can’t fight the Hulk-like transformative powers of hunger.

Being hungry changes you, man. It makes you HANGRY. You become sulky, irritable, disengaged and generally a bit of a menace to society. I’m not saying hunger should be a defence to murder, but holding someone accountable to the things they say and do when they desperately need a burger is deeply unfair.

Always hangry? Maybe you need this Etsy spoon.


If you know this feeling all too well, you won't be surprised that the need to feed could also be to blame for your sudden-onset shopping urges.

Here's how it works: when you've got the munchies, your body is driven to acquire food. That much we know, obviously. However, new research indicates that feeling hungry doesn't prompt you to exclusively seek edible items.

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A team of Hong Kong-based researchers conducted five different behavioural studies of 379 people, to determine how hunger impacted on the desire to acquire non-food items.

In the first study, for instance, participants inside a cafe with varying levels of hunger were asked to comment on a range of edible and non edible items (like cookies and iPads). Although hunger didn't impact on how much they liked each item, it did influence their desire to get their hands on both the food and non-food items.

 I'm not sure these characters can blame their shopaholic ways on constant hunger... (post continues after gallery)

The third study involved people in a store being offered free binder clips. Those who said yes were then asked additional questions, including how hungry they felt at the time. Then, researchers asked how many of the clips each person wanted to take. You guessed it – the hungry hungry hippos went mad for the free binder clips and took more than their sated counterparts did. Whether they proceeded to eat the binder clips is not clear.


All five studies yielded similar results (you can read about them all here), but it's the fifth one that feels most familiar. The researchers approached 81 people who had just left a department store and had a look at their receipts. They also asked each person how hungry they were. You don't need to be a scientist to guess those who bought more non-food items also happened to be the hungriest.

RELATED: 3 ways to work out how much food you should be eating

Well, that certainly explains a lot, doesn't it?

They say you should never do you groceries when you're hungry, but nobody ever warns you about the perils of retail shopping on an empty stomach. Who knows what horrifying pieces of clothing your hungry brain will convince you to buy? After all, a study in 2013 found that people who make decisions on empty stomachs are more likely to take risks, because hunger alters our natural 'flight or fight' instincts.

Perhaps sales assistants should be obligated to offer customers a piece of cheese when they start panic buying jelly sandals/identical stripy tshirts/neon kaftans for no good reason. Or maybe "I hadn't eaten for three hours" should be added as a valid reason for refund or exchange.

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The important thing here is knowing how to protect yourself. Next time you're possessed by the urge to put the whole of Westfield/ASOS on your credit card, for the love of your sanity and your savings account, stop, find the nearest edible item, and stick it in your mouth. Any one will do.

Has being hungry every driven you to do something, um.... out of character?