Sheds Light on
Sweet and Salty Cravings
YORK (Reuters Health) - A desire for chocolate may be a signal
you are tired and the urge for salty snacks or milk products may
indicate your body wants a real meal, according to results of
a study on food cravings.
conducted in France, also found that women crave food more often
than men do, and seem to have their strongest cravings if they
are blue or anxious. Men, on the other hand, indulge their stomachs
more often when they are happy.
findings are published in the March issue of the International
Journal of Eating Disorders.
is defined as a strong urge to eat a certain food or type of food.
It has been mainly studied in women and in clinical settings where
it has been shown to be common in obese or overweight individuals
and in people with eating disorders, explained lead author Lionel
Lafay of INSERM in Villejuif, France.
at studying this phenomenon in a (community-based) normal-weight
population. This investigation is part of general research on
weight preoccupations,'' Lafay told Reuters Health.
In the study,
the investigators gathered information about the food cravings
and eating habits of 538 women and 506 men. The study participants
kept diaries of eating habits and filled out questionnaires that
also assessed their emotional and physical characteristics.
were considered to be cravers if they experienced a strong urge
to eat specific foods at least once a week during the 6 months
(prior to being surveyed).'' They were specifically ''asked about
their mood and hunger at the times they indulged in their cravings,''
the authors explain.
twice as much food craving in women (28%) than in men (13%),''
Lafay told Reuters Health. ``Though food craving episodes were
not associated with weight status, they were strongly related
to weight concern,'' he added.
particularly women, who craved were more frequently on diets or
reported restricting their diet, had unstable weight, felt more
frequently too heavy and wanted more frequently to lose weight,''
that ``another interesting finding was that mood was related to
food cravings but in a different way according to gender. A majority
of female cravers experienced a more (depressed) mood state during
the day, and a negative mood--such as annoyance, boredom, and
depression--preceded the craving episodes. In contrast, men more
commonly indulged in food craving in association with a feeling
factors may be at play to cause women to crave food more than
difference observed could be due to a higher degree of weight
concern in women. Social pressure for thinness--more pronounced
in women--may (cause them to) more frequently restrict their diet
and to follow a diet to lose weight. As these practices are associated
with food cravings, they could be one explanation,'' Lafay said.
explanation could be that women experience a different relationship
between food and mood. However, the relationships between food
and mood are very complex, as is their underlying biological and
psychological determination, Lafay noted.
Lafay said, food craving does not appear to be a simple product
of the need for calories and energy.
act of depriving oneself of food can explain for food craving
in some cases, but ``in our study, food craving was related to
a 'desire' and not to a 'need' for a majority of subjects, which
confirms the important rule of psychological factors,'' Lafay
subjects who reported being hungry craved more frequently for
salted foods whereas others subjects reported craving for sweet
foods,'' he said.
International Journal of Eating Disorders 2001;29:195-204.
Reference Source 89