One of the most often used instruments for the assessment of food cravings is the Food Cravings Questionnaire (FCQ), which consists of a trait (FCQ-T; 39 items) and state (FCQ-S; 15 items) version. Scores on the FCQ-T have been found to be positively associated with eating pathology, body mass index (BMI), low dieting success and increases in state food craving during cognitive tasks involving appealing food stimuli. The current studies evaluated reliability and validity of a reduced version of the FCQ-T consisting of 15 items only (FCQ-T-r). Study 1 was a questionnaire study conducted online among students (N = 323). In study 2, female students (N = 70) performed a working memory task involving food and neutral pictures. Study 1 indicated a one-factorial structure and high internal consistency (α = 0.94) of the FCQ-T-r. Scores of the FCQ-T-r were positively correlated with BMI and negatively correlated with dieting success. In study 2, participants reported higher state food craving after the task compared to before. This increase was positively correlated with the FCQ-T-r. Hours since the last meal positively predicted food craving before the task when controlling for FCQ-T-r scores and the interaction of both variables. Contrarily, FCQ-T-r scores positively predicted food craving after the task when controlling for food deprivation and the interaction term. Thus, trait food craving was specifically associated with state food craving triggered by palatable food-cues, but not with state food craving related to plain hunger. Results indicate high reliability of the FCQ-T-r. Replicating studies that used the long version, small-to-medium correlations with BMI and dieting success could be found. Finally, scores on the FCQ-T-r predicted cue-elicited food craving, providing further support of its validity. The FCQ-T-r constitutes a succinct, valid and reliable self-report measure to efficiently assess experiences of food craving as a trait.
Keywords: Food Cravings Questionnaire; body mass index; dieting success; food craving; food-cues; psychometric properties; reliability; validity.