Food cravings in food addiction: the distinct role of positive reinforcement (2012)

Eat Behav. 2012 Aug;13(3):252-5. doi: 10.1016/j.eatbeh.2012.02.001. Epub 2012 Feb 10.

Meule A, Kübler A.


Department of Psychology I, University of Würzburg, Marcusstr. 9-11, 97070 Würzburg, Germany. [email protected]

Erratum in

  • Eat Behav. 2012 Dec;13(4):433.


Craving for a particular substance is an essential characteristic of addictive behavior. Increasing evidence suggests that food cravings and excessive food consumption could similarly be due to addictive processes. Recently, the Yale Food Addiction Scale (YFAS) was introduced for identifying individuals with addictive eating patterns. We conducted an online study (n=616, 75.8% female) in which participants filled out the YFAS and the Food Cravings Questionnaire-Trait (FCQ-T). Participants diagnosed as being addicted to food using the YFAS had higher scores on all food craving subscales except for anticipation of positive reinforcement that may result from eating. In a subsequent regression analysis, all food craving subscales positively predicted food addiction symptoms while positive reinforcement negatively predicted food addiction symptoms. Similar to other addictive behaviors, results indicate that individuals with addictive eating patterns experience more food cravings, but concurrently do not expect a positive reinforcement through eating.

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