Psychopharmacology

, Volume 197, Issue 4, pp 637–647 | Cite as

Abuse potential of carbohydrates for overweight carbohydrate cravers

  • Bonnie Spring
  • Kristin Schneider
  • Malaina Smith
  • Darla Kendzor
  • Bradley Appelhans
  • Donald Hedeker
  • Sherry Pagoto
Article

Abstract

Rationale

The long-rejected construct of food addiction is undergoing re-examination.

Objectives

To evaluate whether a novel carbohydrate food shows abuse potential for rigorously defined carbohydrate cravers, as evidenced by selective self-administration and mood enhancement during double-blind discrimination testing.

Materials and methods

Discrete trials choice testing was performed with 61 overweight (BMI m = 27.64, SD = 2.59) women (ages 18–45; 19.70% African American) whose diet records showed >4 weekly afternoon/evening emotional-eating episodes confined to snacks with carbohydrate to protein ratio of >6:1. After being induced into a sad mood, participants were exposed, double-blind and in counterbalanced order, to taste-matched carbohydrate and protein beverages. They were asked to choose and self-administer the drink that made them feel better.

Results

Women overwhelmingly chose the carbohydrate beverage, even though blinded. Mixed-effects regression modeling, controlling for beverage order, revealed greater liking and greater reduction in dysphoria after administration of the carbohydrate beverage compared to the protein beverage but no differential effect on vigor.

Conclusion

For women who crave them, carbohydrates appear to display abuse potential, plausibly contributing to overconsumption and overweight.

Keywords

Food addiction Addictive behavior Substance-related disorder Carbohydrate craving Food preferences Appetite Eating Eating disorder Women's health Abuse potential Abuse liability 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bonnie Spring
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Kristin Schneider
    • 1
  • Malaina Smith
    • 1
    • 2
  • Darla Kendzor
    • 1
  • Bradley Appelhans
    • 2
  • Donald Hedeker
    • 1
  • Sherry Pagoto
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.University of Illinois—ChicagoChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Department of Preventive MedicineNorthwestern UniversityChicagoUSA
  3. 3.Hines HospitalVA Medical CenterHinesUSA

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