Food cravings and body weight: a conditioning response

Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes. 2018 Oct;25(5):298-302. doi: 10.1097/MED.0000000000000434.


Purpose of review: To provide current information on interventions that alter food cravings. Specifically, dietary, physical activity, pharmacologic, and bariatric surgery interventions are examined. Lastly, the effects of social determinants and current controversies on food cravings are outlined.

Recent findings: Dietary, pharmacologic, and bariatric surgery weight loss interventions decrease food cravings. Physical activity interventions also decrease cravings. There is potential to see differential responses in food cravings in different demographic and socioeconomic groups, but more research is needed.

Summary: Food cravings influence body weight. Food craving reductions are because of reductions in the frequency of consuming craved foods, independent of energy content, but further research is warranted. Most findings continue to support the conditioning model of food cravings.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bariatric Surgery
  • Body Weight / physiology*
  • Conditioning, Psychological / physiology*
  • Craving / physiology*
  • Diet
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology
  • Food Preferences / physiology
  • Food Preferences / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Obesity / psychology
  • Weight Loss / physiology