Chocolate craving and disordered eating. Beyond the gender divide?

Appetite. 2014 Dec:83:185-193. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2014.08.018. Epub 2014 Aug 27.


Chocolate craving in women has previously been linked to disordered eating behaviors. A relatively higher prevalence of eating disorder pathology may account for the fact that chocolate craving is significantly more common in women in North America, compared to many other countries. While support for a causal role of disordered eating in the etiology of craving in women is growing, little is known about the extent to which food cravings are associated with disordered eating behaviors in men. This study was designed to systematically assess the impact of gender and chocolate craving on measures of attitudes to chocolate, responsiveness to food cues in the environment, body shape dissatisfaction, dietary restraint, and eating disorder and general pathology. Undergraduate men and women (n = 645, 37.2% male) were invited to complete self-report questionnaires assessing demographics, height and weight, food cravings, dietary attitudes and behaviors, along with eating disorder and general pathology. Data suggest that the relationship between chocolate craving and disordered eating behaviors in men is the opposite of what has previously been observed in women: compared to non-cravers, male chocolate cravers reported significantly more guilt related to craving, but were significantly less likely to diet and reported lower levels of dietary restraint, less frequent weight fluctuations, and fewer symptoms of eating disorders. Findings indicate that a positive relationship between disordered eating behaviors and chocolate craving may be unique to women (and potentially women in North America). Findings have important implications for our understanding of cultural and psychosocial factors involved in the etiology of food cravings.

Keywords: Chocolate craving; Dietary restraint; Eating disorders; Gender differences; Men; Thin ideal.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cacao* / adverse effects
  • Candy* / adverse effects
  • Craving*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Cues
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / epidemiology
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / psychology
  • Female
  • Guilt
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Mid-Atlantic Region / epidemiology
  • Models, Biological*
  • Self Report
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sex Factors
  • Students
  • Universities
  • Young Adult