The effect of deprivation on food cravings and eating behavior in restrained and unrestrained eaters

Int J Eat Disord. 2005 Dec;38(4):301-9. doi: 10.1002/eat.20195.


Objective: The relation between being deprived of a food and intake and craving for that food was investigated in restrained and unrestrained eaters.

Method: For 1 week, 103 female undergraduate students were assigned to be chocolate deprived, vanilla deprived, or nondeprived. Only chocolate deprivation was expected to elicit cravings, as chocolate is not easily substituted, whereas vanilla is.

Results: The main effect of chocolate deprivation on consumption was qualified by an interaction with restraint. Chocolate-deprived restrained eaters consumed more chocolate food than did any other group. Restrained eaters experienced more food cravings than did unrestrained eaters and were more likely to eat the craved food. Moreover, restrained eaters deprived of chocolate spent the least time doing an anagram task before a "taste-rating task" in which they expected that chocolate foods might be available.

Conclusion: Converging measures of craving indicate that deprivation causes craving and overeating, but primarily in restrained eaters.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Appetite*
  • Attention
  • Cacao
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / diagnosis
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / psychology*
  • Female
  • Food Deprivation*
  • Food Preferences
  • Humans
  • Hunger
  • Individuality
  • Problem Solving
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Taste*
  • Vanilla