SUBSCRIBE

Breaking News on Food & Beverage Development - EuropeUS edition | APAC edition

News > Science

Read more breaking news

 

 

Snack time? Consumers almost always crave chocolate and high calorie treats

Post a commentBy David Burrows , 15-Mar-2017

© iStock/Duka82
© iStock/Duka82

When consumers crave snacks, it’s chocolate and other high calorie ones they go for, according to new research.

Food craving refers to an intense desire to consume a specific food and is part of everyday life for many. However, there are inter-individual differences in the frequency and intensity of food craving experiences, which is often referred to as “trait food craving”.

Research to date has focused on laboratory studies but experts at the University of Salzburg in Austria set about characterising food craving experiences during people’s everyday lives.

The team asked the 61 young female participants to complete a questionnaire to determine their food cravings. This was then followed by an ecological momentary assessment (EMA), during which they reported snack-related thoughts, craving intensity, and snack consumption five times a day over the course of a week.

6 times a day

On average, individuals thought about snacks 5.75 times a day and 86% of these involved high calorie products. Chocolate treats were the snack participants thought about most – both in the questionnaire and during the EMA. Of all snack-related reflections, 26.3% focused on chocolate.

When both thoughts about snacks and craving intensity were high, more snacks were consumed. High trait food cravers also thought more often aboutsnack foods and consumed more snack foods, particularly whenthey experienced intense cravings for these foods”, the authors explained in their paper for the journal Appetite. While those with low trait food craving may also experience intense cravings for food, the end result isn’t the same.

High trait food cravers are “more prone to think about high-calorie snacks in their daily lives and to consume more snack foods when they experience intense cravings, which might be indicative of a heightened responding towards high-calorie foods”, they concluded. Trait-level differences as well as snack-related thoughts should be targeted in dietary interventions, the authors suggested.

Unexpected results

Not all thoughts or cravings led to consumption: participants ate 2.67 snacks a day.

While the elaborated intrusion theory of desire proposes that thoughts about tempting foods are essential for the emergence of cravings and, thus, making causality between these thoughts and cravings likely, several processes may moderate whether snack-related thoughts and/or cravings result in snack consumption,” the authors noted.

Unexpectedly, for example, there were no direct effects of trait food craving on momentary craving intensity or snack consumption. This contrasts with laboratory studies. During exposure to attractive foods or when they’re hungry, cravings can influence consumption more directly. These were termed “hot” motivational states. In “cold” states self-control “likely prevents consumption”.

Snack-related thoughts, cravings and consumption are “highly interrelated in daily life”, the team concluded. Future studies could look at a more comprehensive set of environmental (for example the availability of food) as well as individual characteristics in order to build a more detailed picture of when food craving experiences result in snack consumption and when they don’t.

 

Source: Appetite

Published June 2017, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2017.02.037

“Food cravings in everyday life: An EMA study on snack-related thoughts, cravings, and consumption.”

Authors: Anna Richard, Adrian Muele, Julia Reichenberger, Jens Blechert

 

 

Post a comment

Comment title *
Your comment *
Your name *
Your email *

We will not publish your email on the site

I agree to Terms and Conditions

These comments have not been moderated. You are encouraged to participate with comments that are relevant to our news stories. You should not post comments that are abusive, threatening, defamatory, misleading or invasive of privacy. For the full terms and conditions for commenting see clause 7 of our Terms and Conditions ‘Participating in Online Communities’. These terms may be updated from time to time, so please read them before posting a comment. Any comment that violates these terms may be removed in its entirety as we do not edit comments. If you wish to complain about a comment please use the "REPORT ABUSE" button or contact the editors.

Related products

Key Industry Events

 

Access all events listing

Our events, Shows & Conferences...