Cancer treatment can impact the hypothalamic-pituitary region of the developing brain, impairing appetite regulation and causing food craving in children who have survived cancer. We assessed food craving using a modified Food Craving Inventory in 22 survivors of pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and lymphoma (median age = 11.7 years) and evaluated its association with treatment exposure and changes in weight status over a one-year period. Mean total craving score was 2.1 (SD = 0.7). Survivors reported significantly higher mean craving score for fast-foods [2.6 (SD = 0.9)] than for sweets [2.1 (SD = 0.8)], carbohydrates [2.0 (SD = 0.6)], and fats [1.8 (SD = 0.7)] (all P values < 0.05). Results from multivariate linear regression indicated that survivors diagnosed at an older age (≥4.5 years) experienced higher frequencies of food craving than those diagnosed at a younger age (<4.5 years) (β = 0.88, 95% CI: 0.42, 1.34). Food craving, however, was not significantly associated with survivors' weight status over 12 months of follow-up. Food craving alone does not appear to explain the obesity risk in this sample of childhood cancer survivors. The role of food craving in shaping eating behavior and obesity risk needs to be further evaluated in a large cohort of childhood cancer survivors.
Keywords: Childhood cancer; Food craving; Nutrition; Obesity.
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