Food Craving, Seeking, and Consumption Behaviors: Conceptual Phases and Assessment Methods Used in Animal and Human Studies

J Obes Metab Syndr. 2019 Sep;28(3):148-157. doi: 10.7570/jomes.2019.28.3.148. Epub 2019 Mar 30.


What drives us to eat? It is one of the most fundamental questions in the obesity research field which have been investigated for centuries. Numerous novel in vivo technologies in the neuroscience field allows us to reevaluate the multiple components and phases of food-related behaviors. Focused on the cognitive, executive, behavioral and temporal aspects, food-related behaviors can be distinguished into appetitive phase (food craving→food seeking) and consummatory phase (food consumption). Food craving phase is an internal state or stage in which the animal has the motivation to eat the food but there is no actual food specific behaviors or actions. Food seeking phase entails repeated behaviors with a food searching purpose until the animal discovers the food (or food-related cue) and the approach behavior stage after the discovery of food. Food consumption phase is the step that the animal grabs, chews and intake the food. This review will specifically focus on characteristics and evaluation methods for each phase of food-related behavior in rodent, non-human primates and human.

Keywords: Behavior; Hunger; Hypothalamus.

Publication types

  • Review