Stress, cues, and eating behavior. Using drug addiction paradigms to understand motivation for food
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Eating patterns that lead to overconsumption of high fat, high sugar (HFHS) foods share similar features with addictive behaviors. Application of addiction paradigms, such as stress inductions, cue reactivity and behavioral economic assessments, to the study of motivation for HFHS food consumption may be a promising means of understanding food consumption. To date, few studies have investigated the interaction of stress and environmental cues on craving, and no study leveraged the state relative reinforcing value of foods (RRVfood) under varying conditions of affective states, the foci of the current study. This study used a mixed factorial design (Mood Induction: Neutral, Stress; Cues: Neutral, Food) with repeated measures on time (Baseline, Post-Mood Induction, Post-Cue Exposure). Participants (N = 133) were community adults who endorsed liking of HFHS snacks but denied eating pathology. The primary DVs were subjective craving and RRVfood. Negative and positive affect (NA, PA), the amount of food consumed, and latency to first bite were also examined. Participants in the Stress condition reported no change in craving or RRVfood. Exposure to food cues significantly increased participants' craving and RRVfood, but an interaction of stress and cues was not present. Participants did not differ on how many calories they consumed based on exposure to stress or food cues, but participants in the food cues condition had a shorter latency to the first bite of food. This study highlights the importance of environmental cues in food motivation. It also demonstrates the utility of using RRVfood to further characterize food motivation.
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