Food craving predicts the consumption of highly palatable food but not bland food.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Eat Weight Disord, Volume 24, Issue 4, p.693-704 (2019)


<p>The impact of obesity on physical and psychological health is well recognized in the literature with, among others, evidence of alterations in cognition. Indeed, obese populations are characterized by lower executive functions as well as an enhanced food craving. However, the relationship between executive functions and food craving remains unexplored. Moreover, these two variables have also been shown to predict food intake, but studies in the context of obesity are lacking. Thus, this study had two objectives: (1) determining if executive functions and food craving are linked, and (2) examining the predictors of highly palatable food intake and bland food intake. First, it was hypothesized that executive functions would be negatively associated with food craving. Second, it was expected that food craving would predict positively highly palatable food intake but not bland food intake. Third, it was predicted that executive functions would predict negatively highly palatable food intake and positively bland food intake. 48 participants (34 females) with BMIs ranging from 17.9 to 46.4 took part in two experimental sessions. First, executive functions were assessed using the delayed discounting task (impulsivity towards food and money) and the color-word interference test (CWIT; inhibition/flexibility). Second, a cue-induced food craving protocol, with images as well as real food, was administered followed by an ad libitum food intake protocol including both highly palatable and bland food. The inhibition/flexibility condition of the CWIT was significantly and negatively correlated with food craving following induction. Highly palatable food intake was significantly predicted by food craving following induction, but bland food intake was not. This study reveals an association between lower inhibition/flexibility and susceptibility to food craving induction that is of great importance in obesogenic environments. Moreover, this study confirmed the link between food craving and food intake, and showed for the first time a specific contribution of food craving to highly palatable food intake but not to bland food intake, highlighting its potential influence in obesity. This work leads to future research questions regarding the possible benefits of cognitive remediation interventions, as well as interventions aiming at reducing food craving, in weight loss programs. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Level IV, quasi-experimental study.</p>

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