November 26, 2016 – Wanting and liking: Separable components in problematic eating behavior?
Some individuals may have an addictive-like response to certain foods, possibly contributing to problematic eating. Highly processed foods, with added fats and/or refined carbohydrates, are suggested to be most associated with addictive-like eating. The incentive sensitization theory suggests that wanting (e.g. craving) may drive compulsive drug use rather than liking (e.g. enjoyment), but it is unknown whether highly processed foods elicit similar wanting and liking patterns as drugs of abuse, or whether individual differences exist. The current study examines the association of highly processed foods with craving and liking, and whether these relationships differ by food addiction symptomology, cognitive restraint, or body mass index (BMI). Participants (n = 216) reported craving and liking for 35 foods and completed the Yale Food Addiction Scale (YFAS) and Three Factor Eating Questionnaire (TFEQ). Highly processed foods were craved more overall. Craving of highly processed foods was predicted negatively by restraint and positively by YFAS score. Liking of highly processed foods was predicted negatively by restraint and positively by BMI. In conclusion, craving and liking appear distinct with respect to highly processed foods, and may be influenced by addictive-like eating, cognitive restraint, and BMI. This suggests that the incentive sensitization framework may also be relevant for problematic food consumption, especially for individuals reporting food addiction symptoms.