The relative-reinforcing value of food under differing levels of food deprivation and restriction

Appetite. 2003 Feb;40(1):15-24. doi: 10.1016/s0195-6663(02)00161-7.


Food deprivation and restriction both increase food consumption. Food deprivation also increases the reinforcing value of food, but it is unknown if food restriction alone or combined with deprivation increases the reinforcing value of food. Forty, normal-weight, college-aged, unrestrained females were randomized to one of four conditions that crossed food deprivation (Dep) and restriction (Res): Dep/Res, Dep/No Res, No Dep/Res, No Dep/No Res. All participants arrived at least 13h food-deprived, and non-deprived participants consumed at least 365cal from a drink during the session. Restriction was manipulated by placing snack food in front of participants, without access for 15min during the session, or having no snack food placed in front of participants. Following the experimental manipulations, participants completed a computer choice task to determine the reinforcing value of food. Repeated measures analysis of variance found a significant main effect of deprivation (p<0.05) and trials (p<0.001) for food points earned. Deprived participants found food to be more reinforcing, and the reinforcing value of food decreased over time. This suggests that while short-term food deprivation increases the relative-reinforcing value of food, short-term food restriction has no effect on the relative-reinforcing value of food in unrestrained eaters.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Diet, Reducing* / psychology
  • Eating* / physiology
  • Eating* / psychology
  • Energy Intake / physiology
  • Female
  • Food Deprivation* / physiology
  • Food Preferences
  • Humans
  • Reinforcement, Psychology*