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Review
, 18 (10), 1122-1135

Extended Calorie Restriction Suppresses Overall and Specific Food Cravings: A Systematic Review and a Meta-Analysis

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Review

Extended Calorie Restriction Suppresses Overall and Specific Food Cravings: A Systematic Review and a Meta-Analysis

C N Kahathuduwa et al. Obes Rev.

Abstract

Background: Multiple studies have concluded that calorie restriction for at least 12 weeks is associated with reduced food cravings, while others have shown that calorie restriction may increase food cravings. We addressed this ambiguity in a systematic review and meta-analysis.

Methods: We searched for studies conducted on subjects with obesity, implemented calorie restriction for at least 12 weeks and measured food cravings pre-intervention and post-intervention. Our final eight studies mostly used the Food Craving Inventory. Other comparable methods were converted to a similar scale. We used the duration ≥12 weeks, but closest to 16 weeks for studies with multiple follow-ups and performed DerSimonian-Laird random-effects meta-analyses using the 'metafor' package in r software.

Results: Despite heterogeneity across studies, we observed reductions in pooled effects for overall food cravings (-0.246 [-0.490, -0.001]) as well as cravings for sweet (-0.410 [-0.626, -0.194]), high-fat (-0.190 [-0.343, -0.037]), starchy (-0.288 [-0.517, -0.058]) and fast food (-0.340 [-0.633, -0.048]) in the meta-analysis. Baseline body weight, type of intervention, duration, sample size and percentage of female subjects explained the heterogeneity.

Conclusions: Calorie restriction is associated with reduced food cravings supporting a de-conditioning model of craving reductions. Our findings should ease the minds of clinicians concerned about increased cravings in patients undergoing calorie restriction interventions.

Keywords: Calorie restriction; food craving inventory; food cravings; weight loss.

Conflict of interest statement

Conflicts of Interest

The authors do not have any other conflicts of interest to declare.

Figures

Figure 1:
Figure 1:
PRISMA flowchart of publication selection for the meta-analysis.
Figure 2:
Figure 2:
Results of the meta-analyses examining the pooled changes in (a) overall food cravings; (b) cravings for sweet food; (c) cravings for high-fat food; (d) cravings for starchy food; (e) cravings for fast-food (e); and (f) cravings for fruits and vegetables during extended calorie restriction interventions.
Figure 3:
Figure 3:
Funnel plots indicating the relationship between the effect-sizes and standard errors of effect sizes of individual studies included in the meta-analyses examining the pooled changes in (a) overall food cravings; (b) cravings for sweet food; (c) cravings for high-fat food; (d) cravings for starchy food; (e) cravings for fast-food (e); and (f) cravings for fruits and vegetables during extended calorie restriction interventions. Colored data points indicate effect sizes of observed studies. White data points indicate the effect sizes of potentially missing studies as determined by the trim-and-fill method.

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