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Appetite. 2005 Oct;45(2):198-201.

Individual differences in reward sensitivity are related to food craving and relative body weight in healthy women.

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  • 1Institute of Psychology, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Woudestein J5-43, P.O. Box 1738, 3000 DR Rotterdam, The Netherlands.


According to the theory of J.A. Gray, a strongly reactive approach system is highly sensitive to reward or to cues that signal reward. This implies that intake driven by the rewarding properties of food should be affected by individual differences in reactivity of the approach system. The present study examined whether reward sensitivity is associated with food craving and relative body weight in a sample of female college students. Participants completed the Sensitivity to Punishment and Sensitivity to Reward Questionnaire and the trait version of the Food Craving Questionnaire and also reported their weight and height in order to compute Body Mass Index (BMI). Sensitivity to reward was significantly related to food craving and BMI. Furthermore, the correlation between reward sensitivity and BMI was not attenuated when the influence of food craving was partialled out, indicating that the relation between sensitivity to reward and BMI was not mediated by food craving. This is the first study demonstrating a relation between the personality trait of sensitivity to reward and BMI. These findings are discussed in the context of the involvement of dopaminergic reward circuitry in overeating.

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