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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging

Title: Relationship of cravings with weight loss and hunger: results from a 6 month worksite weight loss intervention

item Batra, Payal
item Das, Sai Krupa
item Salinardi, Taylor
item Robinson, Lisa
item Dallal, Gerard
item Saltzman, Edward
item Scott, Tammy
item Pittas, Anastassios
item Roberts, Susan

Submitted to: Appetite
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/7/2013
Publication Date: 10/1/2013
Citation: Batra, P., Das, S., Salinardi, T.C., Robinson, L.M., Dallal, G.E., Saltzman, E., Scott, T., Pittas, A.G., Roberts, S.B. 2013. Relationship of cravings with weight loss and hunger: results from a 6 month worksite weight loss intervention. Appetite. 69:1-7.

Interpretive Summary: Food cravings play an important role in increased caloric consumption and weight gain and early drop-out from obesity treatment programs. At present, however, data to support a significant, causal role for cravings in weight regulation is lacking. This 6 month study provides the first data on cravings from a worksite weight loss program. Both, the intensity and frequency of cravings decreased with weight change. Greater reductions in craving-trait were associated with greater weight change. In the presence of hunger, craving-trait did not show associations with weight change. Results suggest that hunger control may be more important than craving control for weight loss. Further research is needed to compare the relative importance of reducing hunger versus reducing cravings in interventions for long-term weight control.

Technical Abstract: We examined the association of food cravings with weight loss and eating behaviors in a 6 month worksite lifestyle weight loss program. This randomized controlled trial of the intervention versus a wait-listed control was conducted at 4 worksites, and 95 participants completed outcome assessments at both baseline and 6 months which included non­ fasting body weight, food cravings (Craving Inventory and Food Craving Questionnaire for state and trait) and eating behavior (Eating Inventory). There were statistically significant reductions in all craving variables in the intervention group compared to the controls. Within the intervention group, changes in craving-trait were significantly associated with weight loss after controlling for baseline weight, age, gender and site. However, in a model predicting weight loss from craving-trait and eating behaviors, the only significant predictor of weight loss was hunger. In contrast to several previous reports of increased food cravings with weight loss, this study confirmed a broad reduction in cravings during weight loss. In addition, greater reductions in craving-trait were associated with greater weight loss, but craving-trait was not a significant independent predictor of weight loss when hunger was included in .statistical models. Hunger control may directly influence both weight loss and food cravings, and studies are needed to examine the effectiveness of hunger suppressing versus craving-suppressing strategies in behavioral obesity treatment.

Last Modified: 06/22/2017
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