The specificity of restrained versus unrestrained eaters' responses to food cues: general desire to eat, or craving for the cued food?

Appetite. 2003 Aug;41(1):7-13. doi: 10.1016/s0195-6663(03)00026-6.


Previous research has shown that exposure to food cues increases eating, especially in restrained eaters. The present study attempted to determine whether this elevated consumption reflects a general desire to eat in response to food cues, or specific desire/craving for the cued food. Restrained and unrestrained eaters were exposed to the smell of either pizza, cookies, or no smell for 10 minutes, were asked to write their thoughts (corresponding to the smell cue) about pizza, cookies or in general, and were then presented with either pizza or cookies to 'taste and rate'. Results indicated that restrained eaters are more responsive than are unrestrained eaters to pre-eating exposure to smell and thought cues, eating significantly more after such cues. An interaction with food type, however, indicated that restrained eaters ate more only when the food presented to eat was the same as the prior food cues. Self-reported desire to eat, liking, and craving for a particular food increased somewhat for restrained eaters after exposure to the smell and thought of that food. Restrained eaters' intake of a food that differed from the pre-eating food cues did not differ from their intake following no prior exposure to food cues. Restrained eaters thus showed a highly specific response to exposure to food cues.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Appetite / physiology*
  • Cues*
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Food / statistics & numerical data*
  • Food Preferences / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Students / psychology