New Insights in Clinical Medicine

Laugh Away the Fat? Therapeutic Humor in the Control of Stress-induced Emotional Eating

Elizabeth S. Bast and Elliot M. Berry


This review explores the potential overlap between the fields of nutrition and therapeutic humor, together with the role of humor as a possible tool for aiding those in whom emotions, particularly negative ones, trigger eating as a means to improve mood. We review emotional eating, obesity, and the hypothesized mechanisms of emotional eating. We then review the field of therapeutic humor and its ability to de-stress individuals, possibly through endorphin and opioid systems, both of which are also involved in eating behavior. Finally, we present a novel hypothesis that people may be trained to use humor as a “food substitute” at best, or to blunt hunger stimuli, to achieve similar advantages, without the side effect of weight gain.

Rambam Maimonides Med J 2014;5(1):e0007