Anticipatory and reactive responses to chocolate restriction in frequent chocolate consumers

Obesity (Silver Spring). 2015 Jun;23(6):1130-5. doi: 10.1002/oby.21098.


Objective: Many individuals have difficulty adhering to a weight loss diet. One possible explanation could be that dietary restriction paradoxically contributes to overconsumption. The objective of this study was to examine ingestive behavior under a forced chocolate restriction with a focus on the anticipatory restriction period and the post-restriction period in frequent chocolate consumers.

Methods: Fifty-six male (N = 18) and female (N = 38) high chocolate consumers with high (N = 25) or low (N = 31) cognitive disinhibition participated. Chocolate snacks were provided for a week each to establish baseline, pre-restriction, and post-restriction consumption, Chocolate snacks were replaced with nonchocolate snacks during a 3-week chocolate restriction period.

Results: Highly disinhibited participants felt more guilty and consumed significantly more energy than low disinhibited participants across snack conditions. Low disinhibited participants consumed significantly less in the post-restriction period compared to baseline and the pre-restriction period, while high disinhibited participants consumed the same amount across all conditions. Aggregating the data, high and low disinhibited chocolate consumers ate snacks more frequently in the pre- and post-restriction periods compared to the baseline period.

Conclusions: This study suggests that for some individuals, restriction of a preferred food like chocolate may be contraindicated for energy restriction and weight management.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cacao*
  • Candy*
  • Diet, Reducing
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Food
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Snacks
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult