Food and Behaviour Research

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The association of food characteristics and individual differences with ratings of craving and liking.

Gearhardt AN, Rizk MT, Treat TA (2014) Appetite 79 166-73 Elsevier Ltd

Web URL: Read more and related research on PubMed here


Craving and liking are related to eating-related problems, but less is known about the association of specific food characteristics (e.g., sugar, fat) with craving/liking. The relation of individual differences in eating behavior with these craving and liking patterns is also relatively unknown.

We examine the nomothetic impact of sugar, fat and processing on food craving and liking and the moderation of these effects by idiographic factors (e.g., Body Mass Index [BMI], hunger).

One hundred and five overweight and obese women completed craving and liking ratings on 180 foods that differed in levels of sugar, fat and processing.

Food craving was linked positively to fat content, but negatively to sugar. Food liking was associated negatively with sugar content and processing level. 
Addictive-like eating predicted elevated overall food craving and liking, and increased craving and liking for processed foods. Attempted restriction efforts were unrelated to craving and liking. BMI was associated with less craving for fattier foods and lower liking for the average food. Hunger was associated with increased craving for the average food.

These findings highlight the role of fat in cravings and differences in craving and liking based on BMI, loss of control over 
eating, and hunger. These findings are relevant to theories of problematic eating and the development of eating-related interventions.