Chocolate Craving

February 12/Biotech Law Weekly -- In a study, the causal influence of chocolate craving on attentional bias for chocolate-related information was examined by experimentally inducing chocolate craving in a sample of high-trait chocolate cravers versus low-trait chocolate cravers. A sample of 35 high-trait chocoholics and 33 low-trait chocolate cravers were randomly assigned to either the exposure condition in which craving was manipulated or the non-exposure condition," scientists in Netherlands report.

"To measure attentional bias, a pictorial version of the visual search paradigm [Smeets, E., Roefs, A., van Furth, E., & Jansen, A. (2008). "Attentional Bias for Body and Food in Eating Disorders: Increased Distraction, Speeded Detection, or Both?" Behaviour Research and Therapy, 46, 229-238] was used, assessing two components: distraction and detection. It was found that experimentally induced chocolate craving led to increased distraction by chocolate pictures in the high-trait chocolate cravers, in comparison to the low-trait chocolate cravers. Moreover, this measure of distraction correlated strongly with self-reported craving, but only in the chocoholics and in the exposure condition. In the non-exposure condition, high-trait chocolate cravers showed speeded detection of chocolate pictures relative to non-chocoholics, but this component did not correlate with self-reported craving," wrote E. Smeets and colleagues, Maastricht University.

The researchers concluded, "It is concluded that experimentally induced craving for chocolate causes a bias in, specifically the increased distraction component of attention in high trait chocolate cravers."

Smeets and colleagues published their study in Appetite ("Experimentally Induced Chocolate Craving Leads to An Attentional Bias in Increased Distraction But Not in Speeded Detection." Appetite, 2009;53(3):370-375).

For additional information, contact E. Smeets, Maastricht University, Fac Psychol & Neurosci, Dept. of Clin Psychol Science, FdP UNS 40, POB 616, NL-6200 MD Maastricht, Netherlands.

From the February 15, 2010, Prepared Foods E-dition