Eating what you like induces a stronger decrease of 'wanting' to eat

Sofie G T Lemmens, Paul F M Schoffelen, Loek Wouters, Jurriaan M Born, Mieke J I Martens, Femke Rutters, Margriet S Westerterp-Plantenga

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45 Citations (Scopus)


Human eating behavior may be influenced non-homeostatically by the rewarding value of foods, i.e. 'liking' (pleasure/palatability) and 'wanting' (incentive motivation). The objectives of this study were to validate a computer test for assessment of rewarding value of food, and to assess how rewarding value of food is affected by eating a dessert-specific (chocolate mousse, CM) vs. dessert non-specific, neutral food item (cottage cheese, CC). Seventy-three subjects (47f/26m, age 27.8+/-10.0 y, BMI 24.1+/-3.3 kg/m(2)), studied in a randomized cross-over design, came to the university twice, fasted. A computer test was developed to determine rewarding value, i.e. 'liking' and 'wanting', for 72 items divided in six categories (bread, filling, drinks, dessert, sweets, stationery). 'Liking' was measured by indicating relative preference of paired items (within/between categories), 'wanting' by working to earn items to choose from. Subjects completed the computer test before and after consumption of CM/CC, matched for energy content (5.6 kJ/g) and daily energy requirements (10%). 'Liking' and 'wanting' scores of all fasted subjects on the two test-days showed 62-73% reproducibility. CM was liked more than CC (p<0.001). Consumption of CM decreased 'wanting' for bread, filling, drinks and dessert (p<0.03). Consumption of CC decreased 'wanting' for bread only (p<0.05). Contrary to CC, CM decreased relative 'liking' for the dessert category (p<0.001). In conclusion, the computer test for measurement of 'liking' and 'wanting' is sufficiently valid. Eating a highly liked food item induces a more distinct decrease in 'wanting' for food items in general and category-specific 'liking', than eating a sufficiently liked neutral food item.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)318-25
Number of pages8
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 7 Sept 2009


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Appetite
  • Computers
  • Eating/psychology
  • Female
  • Food Preferences/psychology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Reward
  • Sensitivity and Specificity

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