Pavlovian craving and overeating: A conditioned incentive model

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Food craving is an intense desire or urge to eat a certain food. It is under control of food-related cues, such as the sight, smell, and taste of one’s favorite food items. It is argued that when the ingestion of food is associated with a rewarding consequence then the incentive value of that particular food increases and its sensory attributes become signals for satisfaction. This attribution of incentive value is the result of pavlovian conditioning and is what makes certain food cues so desirable. Further, food craving reactivity reflects a central motivational state. It is suggested that cue exposure with response prevention may be a useful addition to weight loss treatment programs as it can teach one to handle strong urges to eat. Reducing exposure to food cues by regulating food marketing could further lower the number of occasions that food cravings are triggered.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-170
JournalCurrent Obesity Reports
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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