Threats to Belonging, Immune Function, and Eating Behavior: an Examination of Sex and Gender Differences


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. Recent Findings: 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. Summary: 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.

Current Psychiatry Reports