Anxiety symptoms and emotional eating are independently associated with sweet craving in young adults

Psychiatry Res. 2019 Jan:271:715-720. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2018.11.070. Epub 2018 Dec 3.


Sweet craving (SC), defined as a strong desire for sweet foods, seems to be closely related to negative emotions, such as anxiety and unhealthy eating behaviors. The objective was to investigate factors that are associated with SC and to assess the relationships among SC, anxiety symptoms, and eating behavior in university students. This was a cross-sectional study involving 300 students of both sexes (20.5 ± 4.4 years) who were freshmen in a Brazilian public university. Eating behavior was evaluated using the Three Factor Eating Questionnaire, anxiety symptoms were assessed using the Beck Anxiety Inventory, SC was identified by a yes/no question ("Have you had a very strong desire to eat sweet food over the last three months?"), and characterized by the Questionnaire for Assessment of Sweet Substance Dependence. Individuals with SC scored significantly higher for uncontrolled eating (UE), emotional eating (EE), and anxiety symptoms. Logistic regression analysis revealed that anxiety symptoms are independently associated with SC. In conclusion, negative emotions, like anxiety, and eating guided by these emotions can contribute to the SC phenomenon.

Keywords: Craving; Desire; Eating; Emotions; Feeding behavior; Students; Sugars.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anxiety / diagnosis
  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Brazil / epidemiology
  • Craving / physiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology*
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Students / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Taste Perception / physiology*
  • Universities
  • Young Adult