We examined the association of food cravings with weight loss and eating behaviors in a lifestyle intervention for weight loss in worksites. This research was part of a randomized controlled trial of a 6-month weight loss intervention versus a wait-listed control in 4 Massachusetts worksites. The intervention emphasized reducing energy intake by adherence to portion-controlled menu suggestions, and assessments were obtained in 95 participants at baseline and 6 months including non-fasting body weight, food cravings (Craving Inventory and Food Craving Questionnaire for state and trait) and the eating behavior constructs restraint, disinhibition and hunger (Eating Inventory). There were statistically significant reductions in all craving variables in the intervention group compared to the controls. Within the intervention group, changes in craving-trait were significantly associated with weight loss after controlling for baseline weight, age, gender and worksite. However, in a multivariate model with craving-trait and eating behaviors (restraint, disinhibition and hunger), hunger was the only significant predictor of weight change. In contrast to some previous reports of increased food cravings with weight loss in lifestyle interventions, this study observed a broad reduction in cravings associated with weight loss. In addition, greater reductions in craving-trait were associated with greater weight change, but craving-trait was not a significant independent correlate of weight change when hunger was included in statistical models. Studies are needed to examine the effectiveness of hunger suppressing versus craving-suppressing strategies in lifestyle interventions for obesity.
Keywords: Energy metabolism; Food cravings; Hunger; Obesity; Weight loss; Worksite.
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