Fact Check: Is “Hanger” For Real?

Many, if not all of us, have felt some increased sense of anger when we are hungry (a.k.a. “hangry”).  We hear the term used frequently among friends and now even food commercials use it to help sell their products. However, can someone actually be hangry?

Before we can answer this, we have to understand what food does for us.

It is well known that food is important for the human body and brain to operate efficiently. With a lack a food, we tend to feel the consequences of it. We get stomach aches, headaches, difficulties concentration, and lower energy. Although these are annoying, they are important for informing us that we need food and we need it now. When we are in this state of hunger, many people can get irritated or frustrated quickly.

Why does this state of hunger cause such negative emotions? Well most of it is contributed to the glucose in our body. Glucose is what makes the brain work and helps regulate self-control. In a study done by Dewall and associates (2011), they found that when glucose levels are increased, the likelihood of becoming aggressive decreased. So when we have a lack of food in our bodies, our glucose levels go down, resulting in difficulties controlling emotions and behaviors. This leads us to show our irritation and frustration more easily.

Knowing all this, we can clearly say that yes, someone can be hangry. Even though it is not a true emotion, the term hangry is a perfect way to explain a person’s current state of being hungry and angry at the same time.

So what can you do when you know are in a severe state of being hangry? Well, the cure is quite simple, you just need to eat. By eating, the symptoms of being hangry will go away, and should leave you in a more pleasant state of emotion.

By Annie Jones
Annie is a junior, majoring in Psychology and minoring in Human Development, Human Biology, and German. After graduating from UWGB, she plans on attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison for their Genetic Counseling Master’s program.

DeWall, C. N., Deckman, T., Gailliot, M. T., & Bushman, B. J. (2011). Sweetened blood cools hot tempers: Physiological self-control and aggression. Aggressive Behavior, 37(1), 73-80. doi:10.1002/ab.20366