Dr. Gary Goldfield, a Clinical Scientist with HALO, and PhD candidate Cynthia Colapinto recently published a new paper in the Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research, “Relative Reinforcing Value of Energy-dense Snack Foods In Overweight and Obese Adults.” Full citation details are below:
Goldfield GS, Lumb AB, Colapinto CK. Relative Reinforcing Value of Energy-dense Snack Foods In Overweight and Obese Adults. Can J Diet Pract Res. 2011 Winter;72(4):170-4.
ABSTRACT: Purpose: Obese people find energy-dense food more reinforcing than do their non-obese peers, and reinforcement influences food intake. We examined how the degree of adiposity, measured by body mass index (BMI), is associated with the relative reinforcing value of energy-dense snack foods versus fruits and vegetables in overweight and obese people. Methods: Ninety-two overweight or obese students in introductory psychology courses completed questionnaires on age, sex, BMI, hunger, smoking status, dietary restraint, and hedonic (liking) ratings for energy-dense snack foods and fruits and vegetables. The questionnaire also was used to evaluate the relative reinforcing value of these snack foods in comparison with fruits and vegetables. Results: The BMI predicted the relative reinforcing value of energy-dense snack food. This positive relationship remained significant after we controlled for age, sex, dietary restraint, hunger, smoking status, and snack food hedonics. Conclusions: The greater the degree of overweight and obesity, the greater the motivation to obtain energy-dense snack foods. Because the rewarding value of food is a strong determinant of energy intake, a useful approach to preventing and treating obesity may be introducing pharmacological or behavioural nutrition intervention to reduce the rewarding value of energy-dense snack foods, or increasing the rewarding value of fruits and vegetables.