Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Food cravings have been linked to obesity and eating disorders. Women report craving food more than men, and women experience greater rates of obesity and eating disorders. Retrospective and quasi-prospective studies have suggested that food cravings may be more common during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle. Unfortunately, these studies have been limited by the use of poorly defined menstrual cycle phases, disregard for individual differences in menstrual cycle length, and absence of validated measures of cravings. The current study examined the effects of menstrual cycle phase on 1) cravings in response to a high fat/high sugar chocolate candy cue, 2) amount of chocolate candy eaten in an ad libitum intake session following chocolate candy cueing, and 3) desire to eat foods of differing macronutrient content. Thirty-five college females attended a laboratory session in the late follicular and late luteal phases of their menstrual cycle. In each session they completed a measure of state food craving prior to and following exposure to a bowl of preferred, high fat/high sugar chocolate candy. Consumption of candy following cue exposure was measured during an ad libitum taste test. Additionally, participants completed a measure assessing their desire to eat foods of differing macronutrient content. A urinary luteinizing hormone detection kit was utilized to confirm ovulation. Results show that 1) craving for a preferred chocolate candy prior to or following the candy cue did not differ between the late follicular and late luteal phase, 2) the amount of chocolate candy eaten did not differ between cycle phases, and 3) the macronutrient content of foods desired did not differ significantly between cycle phase. A non-significant trend suggested that high fat/high complex carbohydrate and low fat/high protein foods were more strongly desired in the late luteal phase. Regardless of cycle phase, participants reported greater craving for chocolate candy following the cue. These results suggest that cravings for high fat/high sugar foods do not differ across cycle phases in women. Additional research is needed to determine if cycle phase effects desire to eat foods of differing macronutrient content, as suggested in the current study.
Document Availability at the Time of Submission
Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.
McVay, Megan Apperson, "Food cravings and food cue responding across the menstrual cycle" (2012). LSU Doctoral Dissertations. 3015.