The quota for this particular study has recently been filled and we are no longer accepting applications. Thank you for your interest in our research!




Marriage, Fast Food, Stress and Inflammation

Watch the special news segment about the study!

What is the purpose of the study?

Fast food meals often have high levels of saturated fats (from meats, dairy products, chips, and pastries). This study is designed to help understand important differences in your body's responses when you eat a fast-food-type meal compared to a healthier meal. The researchers will measure certain stress hormone responses, aspects of your immune system, your heart rate and blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides to see if your responses to the two meals differ in ways that could promote obesity and heart disease, and how your responses to a marital problem discussion affect these changes. The researchers also want to know if depression and/or being overweight may make your body’s responses to fast foods and stress worse.

What does the study involve?
The study involves a screening appointment (2 hours) and two nonconsecutive 9.5-hour study days at the Clinical Research Center (CRC), a hospital research unit located at the OSU Medical Center.

What does the screening visit involve?
The purpose of the screening visit is to determine whether or not the couple is eligible to participate in the full study.  Couples do not need to attend the initial 2-hour screening visit together or even on the same day.  This visit will take place on a weekday and can start anytime between 7:30am and 3:00pm.  No fasting is required for this visit.  After both individuals have completed the screening appointment, the couple will be notified if they are eligible to continue with the remainder of the study.

What do the two 9.5-hour study days involve?
The couple will attend the 9.5 hour study days together.  These two visits will be scheduled on a weekday and must be scheduled at least one week apart.  Each visit will start at 7:30am and will last until approximately 5:00pm. 

Prior meals, exercise, and recent alcohol use can affect your body’s responses to subsequent meals.  To limit differences across participants, you will be given three standard meals prepared by the CRC to eat the day prior to each of your two full-day visits. You will be asked to eat these prepared meals and nothing else on those days.  You will also be asked to refrain from consuming alcohol for 24 hours before each full-day visit, and avoid any strenuous physical activity for the two days before each full-day visit. You will not be able to take vitamins, aspirin, antioxidants, or other dietary supplements for the 7 days prior to each admission.

You cannot eat anything after 7:30pm on the night before the two visits; you will be given a full meal as soon as your first blood sample has been drawn on each visit. You will receive two different kinds of meals during the study, one at each of the two visits; one type resembles a typical fast-food meal in terms of its nutritional content (it is high in saturated fat). The other meal is low in saturated fat.  The two types of meals will appear identical. Neither you nor the research staff will know the meal type.

At the beginning of both visits a catheter (a small, hollow plastic tube) will be inserted into a vein in your arm so that small amounts of blood can be drawn at different times across the visit.  At both visits, each spouse will have 320 ml (1 1/3 cup) of blood drawn across the 9.5-hour visit.  This is 2/3 the amount that you would give if you were donating blood.

During both visits your calorie needs and metabolic responses to the meals will be measured 12-15 times.   In order to obtain this information, you will lie in a hospital bed with a facemask that either covers your nose and mouth or rests under your chin for about 45 minutes the first time, and thereafter 10-20 minutes each time. During these times you will be asked to lie still and breathe normally; you will have DVDs to watch. 

Both study visits will also involve saliva samples, body measurements, questionnaires and interviews. In order to assess your typical food intake, you will have two telephone interviews between the two visits and you will be asked to list all the foods you ate in the last 24 hours.  These interviews will last 15-30 minutes each.

Who is eligible to be in the study?
You may be eligible for this study if both you and your spouse:

  • Are between the ages of 21-65
  • Are not diabetic
  • Are not taking blood pressure or cholesterol medications
  • Are non-smokers
  • Have been married at least 3 years

In order for a couple to be eligible for this study, one or both members of the married couple will have a body mass index (BMI) between 26-40.   A tool to calculate BMI is available at:

Participants who are pregnant or nursing are not eligible.

How would I benefit by participating?
Study participation includes:

  • Free breakfast at each CRC visit
  • Free parking for each CRC visit
  • 3 free prepared meals the day before  each of the two visits
  • Detailed report regarding your eating patterns, your average daily intake of different nutrients and recommendations for improving your diet.
Will I be paid for participating?
Each spouse may be reimbursed up to $450 for your joint participation (for a total of $900 per couple).

Who are the investigators and where does the funding come from?
Our investigators are scientists and physicians in the Ohio State University Colleges of Medicine and Public Health.  Our project is a joint venture of the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research, the Department of Medicine, Department of Human Nutrition, and the School of Public Health. The study is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Need more info?
Click here to read the consent form (pdf)
Click here to read the HIPAA privacy policy (pdf)

The quota for this particular study has recently been filled and we are no longer accepting applications. Thank you for your interest in our research!