Selective effects of naltrexone on food pleasantness and intake

Physiol Behav. 1996 Aug;60(2):439-46. doi: 10.1016/s0031-9384(96)80017-5.


The effects of 50 mg naltrexone on both pleasantness and intake of 10 common food items were investigated using a double-blind placebo-controlled study with 16 male volunteers. Rated food pleasantness was reduced significantly in the naltrexone condition compared with both controls (placebo and baseline). However, pleasantness ratings were not affected uniformly across foods, with sweetened, fatty, and high-protein foods being most affected. Changes in rated unpleasantness generally mirrored those for pleasantness, but evaluations of saltiness and sweetness were unaffected by naltrexone. Although total intake was reduced in the naltrexone condition, this was not significant compared with placebo. However, fat and protein intakes were significantly less following naltrexone. The effect of naltrexone on intake was also food dependent, but in this case intake of sweet foods was spared relative to other food categories. The apparent discrepancy between liking and intake data with sweet foods could be interpreted in terms of the likely influence of normal eating styles on food selection during a buffet-style meal, and may explain some contradictions in previous studies of this kind. The implications for understanding opioid involvement in food acceptability are discussed.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Affect / drug effects
  • Appetite / drug effects
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Eating / drug effects*
  • Food Preferences / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Naltrexone / adverse effects
  • Naltrexone / pharmacology*
  • Narcotic Antagonists / adverse effects
  • Narcotic Antagonists / pharmacology*
  • Salivation / drug effects
  • Salivation / physiology
  • Taste / drug effects


  • Narcotic Antagonists
  • Naltrexone